Georgetown School District turns down masks

Source: Live 5
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 9:40 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - The Georgetown County School District Board of Trustees has voted to not require face coverings in its schools. The proposal to mandate mask wearing was met with strong opposition from parents and community members Tuesday night.

“Masks are not effective,” said David Ellison, a parent who spoke at the meeting. “That’s what the science says. That’s what the data says. Even the containers for the masks say they are for medical use only. They are not to stop the spread of viruses.”

The actual vote the board took was to continue its current plan while striking any reference to the state budget proviso baring districts from enforcing mask mandates. GCSD is one of the first districts in the Lowcountry to take up the issue since a federal court ruled against the proviso – temporarily blocking it – a week ago. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the proviso two days later, but Superintendent Keith Price says the federal court’s ruling is what triggered the discussion on masks.

“Had this decision been made a month ago, their [the board’s] decision tonight would probably had been very different,” Price said. “I think the overall frustration was knowing that we could have put things in place to ensure safety and bring some comfort to our constituents earlier.”

However, the legal confusion surrounding the proviso played a background role to the COVID-19 case data. Cases at GCSD peaked at the start of September and have been steadily and rapidly falling ever since.

“A month ago, we were seeing nearly 2,600 students in quarantine. Today we are at 176 in quarantine,” Price said. “That is a welcome sign of relief, and our hope is that the worst of the Delta Variant is behind us.”

Many of the parents at the school board meeting supported parental choice when it comes to masking but at least one says choice isn’t good enough. Ebony Hughes argues everyone needs a mask in order for masking to work. She rejects the notion that a mask mandate hurts parents or students.

“We are already under mandates now,” Hughes said. “Students cannot attend school without certain vaccinations. We can’t even wear whatever we want to wear to school. We have to be decently covered. This is no different. We are still in a pandemic.”

Price says the mask issue may be off the table for now, but it could be back if there is another spike in covid cases.

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