Dorchester District Two School Board says no mask mandate, ‘will abide by the law’

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 8:32 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Students in Dorchester District Two schools will continue to have a choice about whether to wear masks. Near the start of Monday’s school board meeting, board members said they are going to follow state law and not mandate masks in schools.

Board Chair Gail Hughes said they received advice from different attorneys and legal experts, and although they have listened to medical experts, she said the information keeps changing.

“We’re in a situation where we know we don’t know what to do. We don’t know what is the right thing to do. So all we can do is what we’re mandated to do because we think our moral values are very important,” Hughes said.

Back in June, the general assembly passed a budget provision in which the attorney general and the governor said it bans school districts from mandating masks. Board members said that unless the general assembly or the governor decides school districts could mandate masks, nothing will change in the school district.

During public comment, many people spoke against any type of mask mandate.

“They don’t wear masks properly. They don’t work, and they don’t belong on our children, and you know that. You know that at heart,” parent Phillip Hall said to the school board.

Other people, including district teachers and employees, spoke in support of a mandate.

“Masks need to be required in school. We owe it to our children, to protect them from this threat,” one parent said.

Some parents questioned if the school district had other safety measures in place to protect students in classrooms.

According to Dorchester District Two’s COVID-19 dashboard, they currently have 42 staff and 324 students that tested positive. They say they have quarantined 771 students for fear of possible transmission.

One teacher who spoke during the meeting said there aren’t many safety measures in schools.

“We don’t. We don’t have plexiglass, we can’t possibly socially distance, and a great minority of people actually wear masks, and that’s in a building where 93% are unvaccinated. So we can’t promise these families that all safety measures are in place,” DD2 teacher Jennifer Wilde said. " Actually, no safety measures are in place.”

District leaders said they are in the process of getting air purifiers for every classroom, and there are measures in place like sanitizing buses between routes, but they are going to investigate the concerns some teachers spoke about.

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