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York District One, Chester Schools seeing drop in cases, quarantines almost a month with mask mandates

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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CHESTER, S.C. (WBTV) - Chester Schools and York District One have mask mandates in schools.

That is despite the ruling from South Carolina Supreme Court judges, who upheld the state’s mask mandate ban earlier this month.

There are consequences to keeping the mandate, but they do not come from the attorney general’s office as most people might think.

The attorney general’s office is not issuing cease and desists to districts ignoring the mask mandate ban. Instead, much like the choice for masks, it is left up to the parents. Any parent or even taxpayer can sue the school district for contempt of court.

Chester Schools and York District One maintain they are not using any state money to uphold their mask mandates.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office says the decision was never about the masks themselves. It was about the rule of law which the judges decided was broken when a city’s ordinance went against state law. The mask fight is not over either.

Right now, there are two lawsuits pending: from the ACLU in federal court and Richland One in the state supreme court. Richland One’s lawsuit could determine if the mask mandate ban is constitutional.

But the question is how are masks working in the districts with them? In York and Chester counties, COVID cases continue to rise, while positive cases in their respective school districts steadily decline. While masks have been enacted, there has been a drastic decline in COVID cases and quarantines.

It is a debate that has been going on for months. To mask or not to mask.

”For myself and for my children, we choose to not mask,” says one parent picking her student up from a Chester County school.

”At this point, it’s the only thing we know that could help,” says another.

Parents sending their students to school are usually on one side or the other.

”It’s taking away our rights,” says one man who was sitting in the Chester Middle carpool line.

”I think school should take every effort or precaution as necessary,” says another.

”For kids, it should be parents’ choice,” says a grandparent.

”We’ve been wearing a mask since 2020 and it’s still ramping up,” says another parent.

Still ramping up is not exactly true.

At the beginning of the school year, Chester saw a steady increase in positive cases, shooting up just two weeks into school. The day the district had 118 cases was the day masks started. Since then, positive cases have been cut in half, sitting at 59 now.

The district says “At this point, it is still too soon to make that determination for certain, however there is indication of a decline…”

The same story can be seen in York District One for both positive cases and quarantines. A week before masks started positive cases and quarantines were the highest since school started. Just two weeks later, positive cases are down by 50 percent and quarantine more than half. The trends are continuing this week with the new numbers.

Some students are taking notice.

”Without the mandate, I would not have felt safe,” says one student.

So far, Chester County Schools has not had to reprimand any student for not wearing a mask. No student has been sent home for not wearing one. WBTV is still waiting to hear back from York District One.

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