COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued COVID-19 guidelines ahead of the new school year.
Those guidelines call for masks for unvaccinated teachers and students but that won't be the case in South Carolina.
State lawmakers passed a proviso that was part of the state budget which bars any South Carolina school district from creating a mask mandate, in any school facility, meaning no masks in class.
In a memo to all district school districts earlier this month, State Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman said her agency also has decided it will no longer enforce masks on buses either. In fact, any district that tries to put in a mandatory mask mandate, could face a penalty. "Should a district decide to act contrary to this law, state funding may be withheld," Spearman wrote.
Since that memo came out, districts that still had some mask requirements are announcing they are lifting those measures.
Richland One said, "Staff and students will not be required to wear masks inside district schools or other facilities, on district property or on school buses."
Richland Two says their students and faculty will not have to wear masks either, saying, "The district still encourages the wearing of face coverings, especially for those who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine."
Lexington Richland Five School District say, masks are currently encouraged for staff and students but not required.
A student or teacher could still wear a mask if they want to, but it won't be required. The CDC did go further with other suggestions beyond masks, including three feet of distance between desks.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director said her agency was looking over what the CDC had issued and would use some of those suggestions as part of the guidance it will eventually give to South Carolina schools.
"Students deserve the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, and South Carolina's teachers, parents, school administrators and other employees should also be able to work in Palmetto State schools without the fear of getting sick," said Traxler.