- Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order directing that mask ordinances put in place by local governments and school districts be removed.
- State Superintendent Molly Spearman subsequently rescinded the South Carolina Department of Education face covering policy.
- The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA) believes that this action is reckless and risks the health and wellbeing of the children and vulnerable people in schools.
Columbia, SC—On Tuesday, May 11th, Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2021-23, directing that mask ordinances put in place by local governments and school districts be removed. The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA) believes that this action is reckless and risks the health and wellbeing of the children our members serve in the classroom on the frontlines.
A memorandum to district superintendents, from the South Carolina Department of Education stated:
The Governor thoroughly understands the rule of law and surely recognizes this but has been successful in his mission of circumventing public health guidance by inciting hysteria and sowing division in the waning days of the school year.
Rather than wage a debate over constitutionality that would pit elected officials, students, and families against one another, Superintendent Spearman has, effective immediately, rescinded the state face covering policy with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government. The SCDE recommends school boards and administrators confer with their legal counsel as to what liability protections, if any, are provided by DHEC’s opt out form. Superintendent Spearman and the SCDE continue to urge schools and districts to follow DHEC’s public health guidance as they have throughout the pandemic.
President Sherry East said, “While I understand the reasoning behind Superintendent Spearman’s decision to rescind the face covering policy, I am disappointed in her position on this issue. Educators, superintendents, and administration have worked tirelessly this school year to accommodate the everchanging landscape of COVID-emergency teaching. We are weeks away from ending the school year, and politics have disrupted the learning environment for our students, educators, parents, and communities.
To Governor McMaster: Shame on you! Instead of working with elected leaders and medical experts, you release an executive order mid-week, after school hours and put districts in emergency mode to comply with what many would call an executive order of ‘ridiculosity.’ This has caused irreparable harm to student learning conditions.
The Governor has consistently used his office for political posturing for his gain rather than caring for the children and citizens he has taken an oath to serve. Rescinding the mask ordinance is about playing political games, and unfortunately South Carolina educators and children are the pawns.”
While, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has released a facemask opt-out form, DHEC still recommends that students wear face coverings in a school environment.