CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Parents showed up in numbers to protest two separate school board meetings on Monday. Now, Lowcountry healthcare experts are backing up the districts’ mask mandates with facts.
The protesters held up signs and made public comments at the Dorchester School District 2 board meeting and the Charleston County School District board meeting.
“Stop taking away the oxygen from our children. They need to breathe,” says a Charleston County School District parent wearing a plastic bag on her head.
Many of the parents have been arguing that there is no scientific evidence behind mask usage in schools.
“It is not only illogical to force masks on children at this point it is child abuse,” says one parent.
Dr. Jane Kelly from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control says the “evidence” these parents are frequently referencing comes from a study published in a journal in 2020 that a has recently resurfaced on social media.
“I want people to know that this paper — which has some frightening point — has since been retracted and is not scientific…turns out the author is not from Stanford and Stanford has completely rebuked this paper,” says Kelly.
At DD2’s board meeting, a teacher spoke in opposition about the importance of wearing masks.
“These students are able to comprehend the seriousness of wearing masks. Some adults should take a lesson from them. Lives could depend on it,” she said.
The audience was yelling during and after her public comments; so loudly that the board had to go to recess for 15 minutes to get everyone to calm down.
Both CCSD and DD2 officials say at the end of the day, they will follow the guidance of the state’s healthcare experts. According to Dr. Kelly, her team at DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control have also been working to come up with these recommendations.
“What are the DHEC and CDC recommendations for school settings? They are that masks should be worn at all times by all people in the school except when eating and drinking,” she says.
Both boards say they have heard the comments from these parents but for the time being plan on keeping their mask ordinances in place for the remainder of the school year. CCSD officials say they are working on an official guide to send out to parents with mask efficacy information.