COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Education says it will enforce a facemask requirement on all school buses in the state by the end of this month.
Leaders say it’s part of their effort to mitigate virus transmission and keep schools open and operating safely.
“We will again enforce the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order requiring face coverings on school buses beginning August 30th,” the department stated.
State Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, said the SCDE has been following COVID-19 transmission levels across the state, and because of a recent spike will again enforce the face mask rule for all students and staff on state-owned and operated school buses.
School buses will be equipped with a supply of face coverings that meet the CDC’s order requirements.
“If a student boards without a face covering, drivers will offer the student a face covering,” the department said.
Students, however, cannot be denied transportation for failing to wear a face mask.
The following are attributes of masks needed to fulfill the requirements of the CDC order:
• A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth.
• Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly
woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
• Mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind
the head. If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make
• Mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
• Mask should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
The following attributes are additionally acceptable as long as masks meet the
• Masks can be either manufactured or homemade.
• Masks can be reusable or disposable.
• Masks can have inner filter pockets.
• Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate
communication with people who are hearing impaired or others who need to see a
speaker’s mouth to understand speech.
• Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements of the Order.
The following do not fulfill the requirements of the Order:
• Masks worn in a way that does not cover both the mouth and nose.
• Face shields or goggles (face shields or goggles may be worn to supplement a mask that
meets above required attributes).
• Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas.
• Shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose.
• Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass
• Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as vinyl, plastic or
• Masks containing slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
• Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight).
The following narrow subset of persons with disabilities are exempt from the CDC’s
requirement to wear a mask:
• A person with a disability who, for reasons related to the disability, would be physically
unable to remove a mask without assistance if breathing becomes obstructed. Examples
might include a person with impaired motor skills, quadriplegia, or limb restrictions.
• A person with an intellectual, developmental, cognitive, or psychiatric disability that
affects the person’s ability to understand the need to remove a mask if breathing becomes
The following persons with disabilities might be exempt from the CDC’s requirement to wear a
mask based on factors specific to the person:
• A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask because it would cause the person to
be unable to breathe or have respiratory distress if a mask were worn over the mouth and
nose. A person with a condition that causes intermittent respiratory distress, such as
asthma, likely does not qualify for this exemption because people with asthma, or other
similar conditions, can generally wear a mask safely.
• A person with a disability requiring the use of an assistive device, such as for mobility or
communication, that prevents the person from wearing a mask and wearing or using the
assistive device at the same time. If use of the device is intermittent and the person can
remove the mask independently to use the device, then a mask must be worn during
periods when the person is not using the device.
• A person with a severe sensory disability or a severe mental health disability who would
pose an imminent threat of harm to themselves or others if required to wear a mask.
Persons who experience discomfort or anxiety while wearing a mask without imminent
threat of harm would not qualify for this exemption.
A driver does not need to wear a mask if they are the only person on the bus.