‘Enough is enough’: S.C. teacher advocacy group feels let down over mask policy changes

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The move to get rid of the statewide face mask policy in schools has left one teacher advocacy group frustrated.

Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order on Tuesday that said parents should have the choice of whether their kids wear masks in class. This led to Superintendent Molly Spearman’s decision to rescind the mask policy for schools across the state.

While there are parents, students and teachers who are happy to take the masks off, some say it’s still too soon. And the decision by the state’s top education leader has left those with SC for Ed frustrated.

“We feel let down by Superintendent Spearman’s decision to fully rescind the mask mandate. We feel like that takes any leverage that districts might have,” said Nicole Walker, a board member with SC for Ed.

But Walker said the mask issue is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues inside South Carolina public schools. She said on Monday the group plans to protest the move on top of the other issues they’ve faced throughout the pandemic.

“Sort of felt like what happened yesterday was sort of the last straw, and enough is enough,” Walker said. “We’re specifically calling this a protest because we need the state to understand that things have got to change.”

Meanwhile, school districts can now decide to let parents opt out of the children wearing masks in the classroom.

Horry County Schools said parents must sign the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s opt-out form and turn it into the schools before their student can ditch the mask.

District spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said they will have to count each form individually and don’t have then numbers yet on how many parents have opted their children out of masks.

Teachers can also take their masks off inside the classroom too. The only time masks will still be required is on the school bus.

If parents are uneasy about having their children in a classroom with others who don’t have a mask, then the child can learn from home for the rest of the school year.

Some parents asked WMBF News if Horry County Schools will allow families to opt into the virtual school program, even though enrollment has already closed. Bourcier told us that she does not believe the district will open enrollment back up in the virtual program.

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