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Growing Calls for Repeal of the State Prohibition on Masks Mandates in SC Schools

Henry McMaster, Molly Spearman
Jeffrey Collins/AP
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, left, and state Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, right, talk about a Senate proposal to get teachers COVID-19 vaccines immediately, in Columbia, S.C. A budget proviso that went into effect July 1 prohibits school districts in South Carolina from using appropriated funds “to require that its students and/or employees wear a face mask at any of its education facilities.” The measure was backed by Gov. McMaster. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

The political posturing over the question of mandating the wearing of masks in the state’s public schools has been simmering for some time. But this week the issue became front and center at the Statehouse, in school districts and college campuses, and even at the state’s highest court.

When the Republican controlled legislature approved this year’s state budget it included a provision that bars the mandating of masks in schools. But as the school year started, the number of COVID cases in the state began to drastically increase including a rising number of children contracting the virus.

Some school districts and counties, and the City of Columbia have defied the state prohibition and ordered mask mandates in schools sparking growing pressure on the General Assembly to meet to repeal the prohibition.

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs. He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta. He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.