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McMaster praised Kershaw Co. School District as a ‘model’ in COVID-19 response

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster traveled to Camden on Wednesday to praise the Kershaw County School District for its response to COVID-19.

Following a surge in excluded students to begin the year (positive or exposed), the number of excluded students has dwindled. The number stood at 1,563 on Aug. 20 but dropped to 574 by Sept. 14.

The school district does not have a mask mandate, and McMaster used it as an example in his ongoing battle over the issue with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, health leaders, and educators.

“They’re doing a remarkable job of using the data, and keeping the school open, keeping the students, parents, and everyone involved healthy, happy and learning. I believe what this district has done is a model,” he said.

He went on to state:

“You do not need to force people to do things in order to make great progress.”

District nurses, administrators and school board members attended the roundtable with McMaster. The leaders identified contact tracing, isolation rooms and studying data as key tools in curbing the spread.

The nurses in attendance said anecdotally, most positive cases are resulting from exposure at home. Additionally, the threat of quarantine is pushing more students toward masking and vaccinations.

Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins echoed messages about encouraging vaccinations and masking. He said mandatory masking is a tool he’d be open to potentially.

“Looking at every tool that we have in our tool chest, to try to mitigate spread, is what we want to do. We’re a county school district and so it really varies across our county and our community on what we’re seeing. Is it a tool I’d like to be able to use? Yes possibly. But it’s not one I feel like we need to mandate in our school district right now.”

McMaster said there have been discussions with General Assembly leaders about calling lawmakers back to address the temporary mask mandate rule, but reiterated it’s currently the law.

There is a pending State Supreme Court ruling on a request for an injunction against the rule, brought by Richland School District 2.

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