SC Supreme Court says Columbia’s mask requirement goes against state law, York and Chester counties respond

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(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – South Carolina’s highest court tossed out a school mask mandate, saying the City of Columbia’s mask requirement goes against state law.

Two school districts in the FOX 46 viewing area of South Carolina; York School District 1 and Chester County Schools, currently have mask mandates.

Both of those school districts are telling teachers and students to continue to mask up for now.

5-year-old Emma has only been in-person for Kindergarten for two days this school year. The rest of the time she’s been learning on the computer.

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“Emma she thinks it’s funny, but as a parent you’re looking on behind the screen and it’s sad, you just know the school experience that she’s really missing out on,” said Lauren Holleran, Emma’s mom.

Emma’s entire classroom at Doby’s Bridge Elementary in Fort Mill had to switch to virtual learning because there were so many COVID cases and quarantines.

“If everyone was wearing masks, the amount of quarantining in this district would go way down,” said Holleran.

She’s disappointed by a South Carolina Supreme Court decision. The judges threw out the City of Columbia’s school mask mandate saying it goes against state law, which bans districts from requiring masks.

“Parent’s choice. I believe 100% because no one else is taking care of your kids except for the parents,” said one mom who didn’t want to be identified.


RELATED | South Carolina Supreme Court says Columbia school mask mandate violates proviso

Even though some schools have had to go all virtual, and in other cases it’s been just classrooms, parents are still divided on the issue of requiring masks in schools.

“We tell her that it’s her choice if she wants to wear it. If she doesn’t feel comfortable, she can take it off,” said John Nadratowski.

Emma goes back to school on September 13. Her mom hopes she’ll be able to stay in class for the rest of her Kindergarten year.

York School District 1 released the following statement on the SC Supreme Court’s decision:

Earlier today, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a ruling against the City of Columbia’s ordinance which mandated that students and staff at elementary and middle schools within the City of Columbia wear masks in all school facilities.  Like most school districts, we had hoped that the Court would rule in a way that is more protective of our youngest students who are not yet eligible for vaccination. 

Today’s ruling does not impact the other case currently before the SC Supreme Court requesting that the Court determine whether local school districts may enforce mask mandates.  We anticipate that the Court will rule on that case within the next few days.

 Until such time as the Court rules, our District will continue to adhere to the action taken by the Board of Trustees on Monday, August 30, 2021, requiring that students and staff wear masks when adequate social distancing is not possible.

Chester County Schools released the following statement on the SC Supreme Court decision:

The District is and continues to monitor updates concerning various legal challenges that were filed in South Carolina concerning the mask issue. The District will consult with its legal counsel to determine how the recent SC Supreme Court decision in Columbia impacts Chester County School District’s decision concerning the mask updates, and will comply as necessary.

We ask our students and staff to please continue following the masking policy. Chester County School District stands by its decision to protect the health of its students and staff, and the rights of our students to receive a fair education in a safe learning environment.

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