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SC Gov. McMaster remains unswayed on his position on masking in schools

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:50 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Federal lawsuits, statements from teacher advocacy groups, and petitions from doctors and pediatricians have not swayed Gov. Henry McMaster from his position on masking in schools.

“You can take 20 more looks and you’ll come up with the same decision... and that is parents are the best judges on what’s good for their children,” McMaster told reporters Tuesday.

When pressed on what he would say in response to the ACLU lawsuit arguing the state’s ban on mask mandates excludes at-risk students from safely going to public schools, McMaster said what the state has done is “perfectly legal.”

RELATED STORY | ACLU sues over South Carolina ban on school mask mandates

The Governor also urged students and parents who are open to getting the COVID-19 vaccine to get it now.

“This is the same variant, this is the same virus it’s a little different, there may be another one a little bit different after this, the same as the flu, it’s always a little bit different every year it seems. But we know how to protect against the infection and serious illness as well as minor illness and the best way everyone agrees the best way is vaccination,” the Governor said.

He also said if a child is too young to get vaccinated, a parent can have their child wear a mask but repeated it shouldn’t be mandated for everyone.

“If the parents don’t want their child to wear a mask then a superintendent shouldn’t be telling them to wear a mask,” he said.

However, around the Governor more people and groups are calling for the temporary state law that puts restrictions on mask mandates in schools to be changed.

The list of people urging lawmakers to allow districts to require masks includes:

  • State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
  • DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer
  • The SC School Board Association
  • The SC Association of School Administrators
  • The state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians
  • More than 1,400 state doctors
  • Sen. Luke Rankin (R- Horry)
  • Sen. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston)
  • The Palmetto State Teachers Association
  • South Carolin House Democrats
  • South Carolina Senate Democrats
(Adam Mintzer)

The South Carolina Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, both Republicans, have the power to call lawmakers back to take another vote on masking in schools. But when asked if they will take that step, neither lawmaker commented.

Ultimately, the final say on whether school districts need to follow this state law could be left to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

On August 31st, the high court will hear oral arguments on Richland School District Two’s request for a temporary pause on the state law on masking and the state Attorney General’s complaint against the City of Columbia for mandating masks in daycares, elementary schools, and middle schools.

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