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Chester County School Board stands by decision to require masks after federal judge blocks S.C. ban on mandates

The district says it is not using state funds to enforce the mask mandate.
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - The Chester County School Board says they stand by their decision to require mask indoors for students and staff after a federal judge temporarily blocked a South Carolina ban on mask mandates in state schools.

On Wednesday, A U.S. District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on budget proviso 1.108 which is a mask mandate ban for school districts.

The Chester County school board voted on this requirement in August with the mask mandate starting on Aug. 30.

South Carolina state law previously kept public school districts from using state money for mask mandates in schools. However, Chester County joined districts such as Charleston and Richland One to defy the mask mandate ban.

The district says it is not using state funds to enforce the mask mandate.

Based on Wednesday’s ruling, school districts, as public entities that serve students with disabilities, are currently prohibited from enforcing Proviso 1.108 and now have the discretion to implement and enforce a mask requirement in its schools.

Chester County School Board responded to the news of the judge’s ruling.

“The District is relieved that the U.S. District Court has reaffirmed local decision making concerning masks,” CCSD Superintendent, Dr. Antwon Sutton, said. “The District’s concerns have always focused on the safety of its students and staff.”

Officials say Chester County Schools saw a significant spike in positive COVID-19 cases when the masking policy was reinstated in August with a total of 118 cases. Since then, numbers have declined weekly.

“It is the hopes of the District that this downward trend continues. The majority of the CCSD Board of Trustees also stands by its original decision to ensure that masks are used within all school facilities,” a press release from the school district read.

Officials say the school board will continue to monitor cases, and will revisit the masking policy once the original 60-day period ends. Students and staff will continue to be required to wear facial coverings as stated by district policy (ADD-Face Covering).

The district will also continue to seek medical advice from its Medical Task Force on safety recommendations as the school year progresses.

The task force is comprised of school nursing staff, local medical professionals from the community and district administrators.

“We are determined to slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools in order to keep as many students in the classroom as possible. The District has an obligation to create a safe learning environment for all students and staff,” a press release read.

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