Berkeley County School District keeps masks optional

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:11 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Berkeley County school board members say masks will remain optional in schools but say they are “highly encouraged” for students and staff. The school board discussed several budget provisions including the proviso that stops school districts from mandating masks.

District officials said that at this time if the district wants to comply with the proviso, board members can’t impose a mask mandate.

“Berkeley County School District will not issue a mask mandate at this time. While we are not requiring masks or face coverings, we are strongly encouraging our staff and students to wear a mask when social distancing is not practical,“ Superintendent Deon Jackson said.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, nearly 40 people showed up to speak either for a mask mandate or against one.

“We have an obligation to provide for the safety and general welfare of every one of us and that means putting in precautions. If a mask can save 4 or 5 kids, 6 kids then so be it. That’s what we should be doing,” critical care nurse Tony Sims said.

Outside of the board meeting, there were two protests being held for the same issue.

Tina Godfruy, a parent and one of the protesters, believes masks should not be a requirement.

“It is an absolute waste of time and other measures can be taken like take their temperatures, separate them, whatever. By the way, they end up together at the playground after school, so there’s just no point,” she said.

One of the people who spoke to board members was a bus driver for the school district. She stated that one of the children on her bus tested positive for COVID-19 and after feeling ill, she is now waiting for her results.

There are several lawsuits related to the mask issue and district leaders said they are looking to whatever the courts decide, whether that’s allowing school districts to mandate masks or not.

Leaders also said they are taking other safety measures like sanitation efforts to keep students and staff safe.

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