Charleston City Council passes resolution encouraging masks for kids

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 11:48 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is encouraging children to wear masks and for all eligible people to get vaccinated.

On Wednesday, city council held a special meeting and passed a resolution that urges people to follow CDC guidelines regarding masking for kids 12 and under. The resolution also encourages anyone over the age of 12 to get vaccinated, and for everyone to wear masks inside.

The decision comes after leaders say COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Charleston region as the Delta variant becomes more prominent. With the new school year starting soon, many city council members said they felt like it was necessary for students to wear masks.

MUSC Dr. Michael Sweat presented information about COVID-19 cases during the meeting. He said 90% of all new cases are from the Delta variant, which is highly transmissible. He said there could soon be a steep increase in infections followed by a decline.

When asked by city council members if he thought the numbers would rise when children go back to school, Sweat said he believed it would if mask use is not in place.

During public comment, many people urged city council to pass the resolution or put in place a mandate instead. Some people also sent in comments telling city council to not get involved at all.

Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city was considering a mask mandate for schools, but he said it could be hard to enforce due to state law.

South Carolina’s attorney general recently said the state budget doesn’t allow masks to be mandated in public schools, otherwise districts could lose state funding.

The idea of a mask mandate isn’t out of the question yet, since some city council members said they would be willing to pass a mandate at the meeting.

“I think we should follow the city of Columbia’s lead and adopt an enforceable mask ordinance for kids 12 and under,” city councilman Ross Appel said. “I have looked into the legal issues and in my view this issue is not nearly as black and white as attorney general Wilson suggests.”

Councilman Harry Griffin said the resolution was a compromise he was willing to accept at first, but the idea of a mandate is something he could not support.

“By trying to say we’re going to try and make people wear the masks, we’re actually putting our kids at risk of [not] having teachers in the classroom and getting that funding, so to me it’s ridiculous we’re even considering that,” he said.

City council could talk about creating a mandate at their next meeting on August 17.

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