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Spearman: SC schools can mandate masks after judge’s ruling

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 12:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman has responded to a federal judge’s decision to rule against the state’s budget temporary state law that prevents schools from enforcing mask mandates.

“Those districts that made reference to Proviso 1.108 as the rationale for not following the CDC’s recommendations in their plan will need to revise their plans immediately as a result of the Court’s order,” said Spearman.

Governor Henry McMaster issued a statement that he ‘completely disagrees’ with the federal judge.

“I disagree 100% with the opinion of the district judge,” McMaster said. “Parents should have the final word in whether their children should be required to wear a mask in school. We will take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.”

Tuesday night, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the state’s budget proviso, meaning both state and local districts are not allowed to stop a school or school district from requiring masks.

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Education explained that because of the temporary restraining order placed on the law in the state budget mask mandates in schools, districts were not following CDC COVID-19 back to school guidance.

In order to receive federal school pandemic relief funds, districts have to submit plans for how they will use the funding in compliance with CDC COVID-19 guidelines. The Department of Education says districts that weren’t following the universal masking guidance because of the temporary law, must now change their reasoning.

In a message to state school districts, Spearman said that the Dept. of Education recommends districts consult with their legal counsel on steps they need to take in order to approve a mandate.

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