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More SC Colleges Requiring Masks After High Court's Ruling

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Nick Youngson

More South Carolina colleges and universities are requiring students and educators to mask up to limit the spread of COVID-19 after the state Supreme Court ruled the schools can legally do so.

Coastal Carolina University will require face coverings in all campus buildings except for private offices and assigned living areas, the school announced Wednesday on Twitter.

Clemson University, the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina instituted similar mask rules following the high court's Tuesday ruling. South Carolina State University officials announced their mask mandate Wednesday as well.

University of South Carolina officials initially issued a mask mandate in July, but quickly rescinded it after state Attorney General Alan Wilson opined that the mandate was "likely not consistent with the intent of the Legislature."

Wilson had cited a budget proviso passed by the General Assembly that states public institutions of higher learning can't use appropriated funds to "require that its students have received the COVID-19 vaccination in order to be present at the institution's facilities without being required to wear a facemask."

But the measure does not prevent public universities and colleges from establishing a universal requirement for face coverings for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, state Supreme Court justices decided unanimously.

Clemson officials said Tuesday that masks would be mandatory in statewide buildings "except while eating or in private spaces" for a period of three weeks.

"This three-week period coincides with the greatest risk predicted by our public health team's modeling of the disease," the university said in a statement. "Masks were shown in our models to a have significant impact on curbing the spread of the virus and correspondingly enhances our ability to stay in person."