CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Wednesday marked the Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) third day of mask enforcement. While warnings were given on Monday, on Tuesday students were separated from classes for virtual learning and on Wednesday students were sent home.
Parents who were called to pick up their children held a protest shortly after at Laurel Hill Primary School.
The four parents that spoke with News 2 said they say they are not anti-mask, rather they are pro-parental choice and they believe the mask mandate is unlawful.
Amy Black, a parent of a 2nd grader at Laurel Hill Primary School was called to pick up her child today. She said she does not like to be painted that she is “trying to make choices for other children”, she says she just wants the right to choose what is best for her kids.
Multiple families said at the protest that they moved to Charleston during the pandemic specifically for the district and the fact that masks were a choice.
Black said her child has, “already missed almost his entire Kindergarten year, his entire first-grade year and so to get to go to school which is just a right is now something that is being ripped away from him”.
Another parent, Kimberly Norton said her main confusion comes from how other families and society acts while not at school. She said, “on the weekend, we are attending college football games as a whole as a society, we are attending concerts, we are attending galas and parties. But my Kindergartener and my first-grader are not allowed to attend their classrooms. They are being isolated, segregated into a classroom. It’s just mind-blowing, it’s something that as a parent, I can’t wrap my head around and it’s confusing for these children”.
The group today said they have spoken with the South Carolina Attorney General and local lawyers who tell them the mandate would not hold up in court. Meanwhile, Andy Pruitt, the Director of Communications with the Charleston County School District says it is completely by the book.
You can’t use funding from this year’s budget, and so what the reserve fund is for Charleston County school district and school districts around the state and the country, it’s essentially a savings account where moneys has been accrued over time from past years. So that money is being used to fund those individuals who are enforcing the mask policies inside our schools.Andy Pruitt, Director of Communications CCSD
While religious and medical exemptions can be made for this rule with documentation, Pruitt said the expectations for those who were sent home today with virtual instruction are to be back at school the following day with a mask on or they face being sent home again.
He went on to note, “the expectation is that when you come to school, you’re going to wear the mask until at least October 15th “.
According to CCSD’s policy, the mandate can be extended if necessary and that decision will depend upon the number of COVID-19 cases at the time of the next vote.
Pruitt asked that parents that have questions about the policy, email CCSD as opposed to questioning staff and educators. Their email specifically for masks is: firstname.lastname@example.org