AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — In a surprise ruling Tuesday, a federal judge issued an injunction against a ban on mask mandates in South Carolina schools.
The ruling could open the door for school systems like Aiken County to require masks. “This virus still going on, I feel like they’re safer that way, keeping the mask on,” Aiken Resident Joanne coats told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk about the new changes. “I think kids should wear masks to protect themselves,” Aiken resident Linda Stone added.
Both Coats and Stone have grandchildren in the school district. Coats has one simple answer when it comes to whether the district should require masks and not just recommend them. “Yes,” she said.
The pair may get their wish if the school board approves. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis recently issued an order halting the enforcement of proviso 1.108. She found that Governor Henry McMaster’s proviso violated two laws already on the books the Americans with Disabilities Act and a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. “I feel that it’s unfair that we are not required to wear masks. I think that’s the only way we’re gonna be able to get rid of this pandemic and protect our children and our vulnerable adults,” Aiken resident Patricia Baxley shared.
That proviso, which is attached to the state budget, prevents k-12 schools from requiring masks to be worn in classrooms. The disabilities and rehabilitation acts prohibit discrimination based on disability. “Yeah, mask up, vaccinate, and let’s move on,” Baxley added.
Currently, Aiken County schools have 128 COVID-positive students and more than 4,200 in quarantine.
Some school leaders support a mask mandate including the school board chairman. “The board will have to talk among themselves to see if they want do anything,” Aiken County School Board Chairman Dr. John Bradley added.”
Meanwhile, Bradley is expected to poll all council members to find out their stance on the issue. It could be brought up during a special called meeting or at the next scheduled board meeting in October.