CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry parents have been pushing against district mask mandates for weeks. Now, the Governor has decided to put that power into their hands.
“Fight for our kids!” “Take off the mask!” shout dozens of parents protesting at the last 2 Charleston County School Board meetings.
“This is not humane, this is not normal, this is barbaric,” says one parent during public comment.
Governor Henry McMaster has spoken extensively over the last few months in favor of in-person learning; highlighting the safety of South Carolina’s classrooms. More recently, he has been commenting against masks being mandated in schools.
“I think again it’s the height of ridiculosity for a school district to make that decision,” he says. “The classrooms are the safest places of all.”
This new executive order will allow parents to sign a waiver if they choose for their children to not wear a mask at school. The order also restricts local governments from using a state of emergency to justify a mask mandate and eliminates any requirement for a ‘vaccine passport.’
This order “empowers South Carolina parents to decide whether their children should wear masks in public schools throughout the state…, explicitly prohibits any county or local governments in the state from relying on prior orders or using a state of emergency as the basis for a local mask mandate, and bars all state agencies, local governments, and political subdivisions from requiring what has commonly been referred to as ‘vaccine passports’ for any reason.”
On the other hand, some South Carolina teachers believe this wasn’t the best move, especially with just a few weeks of school until summer vacation.
“It’s not that I don’t understand that people don’t want to wear masks. But the idea that we can’t require something for public safety is difficult for me to wrap my mind around.”Steve Nuzum, SC for Ed
Steve Nuzum is an English teacher and advocate with SC for Ed. He says the Governor’s decision may add unnecessary difficulty to teachers and school districts at the end of an already difficult year.
“Whether we agree with it or not, it’s going to create absolute chaos for how we deal with students. We’re going to have parents that do want their students to wear masks and don’t want them to be in a room with students who don’t wear masks and there will be parents who don’t wear masks. So, school districts will lose either way,” he says.
The SC Department of Education and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control have been instructed to create a universal waiver to allow parents to opt out of their student’s mask usage.
For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control on the efficacy of mask usage, click here.