From staff reports
While the Beaufort County School District has devoted the better part of three board meetings over the past two weeks debating whether or not to enact a mask mandate, the county’s Catholic schools, as well as the county’s two colleges, have moved forward with mask requirements.
The county’s four Catholic schools — John Paul II in Okatie, St. Peter’s on Lady’s Island, St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton and St. Francis on Hilton Head Island — are now requiring students, faculty and staff to wear masks.
Parents were notified in a Tuesday, Aug. 17, letter from the Charleston Diocese. William H. Ryan, Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Charleston wrote to parents:
“I hope and pray your opening week has been filled with excitement and great joy even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As we all know, the pandemic has been somewhat unpredictable, and as we have stated from the beginning, our plans must remain fluid. After many weeks of seeing the number of positive cases in the state decrease over the summer, that number is currently rising daily. Due to that increase, we have decided to require, in addition to our plan for social distancing, that all students, faculty and staff wear masks during the school day. Masks will not be required outdoors, as long as appropriate social distancing can be maintained. This will be effective tomorrow, August 18, 2021. We will continue to monitor reported cases and will revisit this policy as needed.
As a community, we must work together to stop the spread of this virus. I wish you and your child a blessed and successful school year.”
The Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort enacted mandatory mask policies on Wednesday, Aug. 18.
On TCL campuses, masks will be required for all individuals while indoors. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, this policy includes employees, students, visitors and vendors in all indoor spaces unless working alone in a private office.
Masks may also be removed temporarily for eating or drinking.
The school will evaluate the situation at regular intervals as the semester progresses to determine a safe end date for the mandate.
Similarly at USC Beaufort, all students, employees and campus visitors are required to wear face masks when indoors and in the presence of others. Face masks are not required while alone inside private rooms in residence halls or inside private, enclosed offices.