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  • The Biden administration is threatening to revoke the authority for three Republican-controlled states to handle their own workplace safety regulations because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19. The threats were sent to Arizona, South Carolina and Utah as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepares to adopt much more far-reaching vaccination and testing rules affecting 80 million Americans.
  • South Carolina districts can continue to require face coverings to protect against the coronavirus in the state's schools under an appellate court's decision this week. On Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied state Attorney General Alan Wilson's request that South Carolina's law prohibiting school mask mandates be allowed to take effect while a lawsuit over the COVID-19 pandemic measure goes forward.
  • South Carolina's Supreme Court has ruled lawmakers can try to prevent local school districts from requiring masks in classrooms. But the ruling is trumped by a federal court decision two days ago that suspended the ban because federal law trumps state law. The state Supreme Court ruling Thursday does say districts can both require masks and follow the state rule if they can find a way to not spend state money enforcing the wearing of face coverings. The federal ruling says the South Carolina Legislature's ban on mask requirements discriminates against medically fragile students who can't feel safe in public schools without face coverings.
  • The leader of South Carolina's schools says districts now have the authority to require masks in the classroom. State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman wrote the memo Wednesday, a day after a federal judge ruled with the parents of disabled students who said a state ban on mask mandates discriminated against them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary restraining order went into effect immediately. Republicans Gov. Henry McMaster and state Attorney General Alan Wilson promised to appeal the suspension of the provision in the budget passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature. Spearman's memo says districts should consult their lawyers to make sure they give medically fragile students the accommodations they need.
  • A federal judge Tuesday suspended South Carolina from enforcing a rule that banned school districts from requiring masks for students. Parents of disabled children, helped by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the state saying the ban discriminated against medically vulnerable students by keeping them out of public schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
  • South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler has sent a letter to senators canceling the special session set to begin Oct. 12. They were supposed to debate how to spend billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief money and redistricting. Peeler says the a subcommittee working on the new state Senate districts won't have the maps ready. And since the House doesn't plan to take up the pandemic money until January, there was no need to pass that bill now.
  • Health care workers and educators in South Carolina are doubling down on calls for lawmakers to roll back a provision that bans masks in schools. Pediatricians, school nurses and teachers on Tuesday described the toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on students and in children's hospitals. They want lawmakers to repeal a state rule that prevents school districts from using state money to enforce a rule requiring masks. More than 88,000 students and staff have been quarantined this school year so far. Schools have recorded nearly 21,000 COVID-19 cases this fall, almost 7,000 more than they counted all of last year.
  • In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter. Classes, schools and entire districts have gone virtual, leaving parents frustrated and teachers quitting weeks into the school year. Republicans backed a provision to ban masks in schools in June when cases were low and have not budged. Now teachers, students and parents are struggling with the fallout as more young people contract the delta variant, forcing nearly two dozen schools and two entire districts back to online learning within a month of returning in person.
  • Starting Monday, every student in South Carolina's second largest school district will have to wear a mask inside schools or have to go to online learning. Charleston County schools passed a mask rule in August, but was working to find a away around a South Carolina budget rule that state money can't be spent to enforce masks in schools. The district will use reserve money so state money from this budget year is not used.
  • South Carolina senators plan to return to the Statehouse next month for a special session on spending federal COVID-19 relief money and redistricting.