State law limits what COVID-19 safety protocols SC school boards can implement

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Schools across South Carolina are starting the new school year without mask or vaccination requirements.

There will be still be other COVID-19 safety protocols in place to protect your child. Your local school board plays a pretty big role in deciding this but some decisions are out of their hands.

The South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) said the COVID-19 situation is slightly different from last school year, but districts know more about the virus, vaccines are readily available and they are facing some restrictions from state lawmakers.

“That’s just the reality we’re living with right now,” Executive Director Scott Price said.

When the South Carolina General Assembly passed this year’s budget, they included a proviso that would pull state funding from school districts if they implemented a mask mandate.

Price said, “Some people may argue there’s a loophole and depends if you use this fund or that fund. The intention of the legislature is clear, you cannot enforce or put in place mask requirements in schools.”

Governor Henry McMaster has repeatedly said it should be up to the parents to decide whether or not their child wears a mask in schools. Price said the SCSBA strongly encourages the use of masks in schools.

According to Price, nearly all school districts are doing this and have approved different safety measures.

He said, “We could see things like limiting the number of visitors, continuing with sanitation, some of the plexiglass may be going away and obviously quarantining and isolation practices will be in place.”

Price said keeping decisions up to locally elected school boards is crucial to a successful school year. He said, “The local decision making is something we are strongly supportive of because everybody is so different it just can’t be a one size fits all during the pandemic.”

Last school year, the state health department reported close to 19,000 cases of COVID-19 reported among staff and students in public and private schools in South Carolina.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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