McMaster issues order on parent choice on masks in schools, restricts mask mandates, bans vaccine passports

South Carolina News

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about vaccine distribution and abortion during a news conference in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, file)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — Governor Henry McMaster issued an order Tuesday that would give parents a choice on their children wearing masks in schools, restricting local mask mandates, and banning vaccine passports.

Executive Order 2021-23 states counties or local governments can’t rely on previous orders or a state of emergency as the basis for a mask mandate and all state agencies, local governments, and political subdivisions are banned from requiring “vaccine passports” for any reason.

McMaster directed the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to create a standardized form to allow parents to opt their child out of wearing a mask in school.

“We have known for months that our schools are some of the safest places when it comes to COVID-19,” McMaster said. “With every adult in our state having the opportunity to receive a vaccine, it goes against all logic to continue to force our children — especially our youngest children — to wear masks against their parents’ wishes. Whether a child wears a mask in school is a decision that should be left only to a student’s parents.”

McMaster said the vaccine availability and declining case numbers is why he won’t allow local governments to use a state of emergency to require masks.

“Everybody knows what we need to do to stay safe — including wearing a mask if you’re at risk of exposing others — but we must move past the time of governments dictating when and where South Carolinians are required to wear a mask,” McMaster said. “Maintaining the status quo ignores all of the great progress we’ve made.”

McMaster also said “vaccine passports will have no place in South Carolina.”

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