MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — City and county government officials across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions say they are keeping a close watch on a statewide fight over whether face coverings should be required at schools.
However, none of the officials who responded to a News13 request on Monday were aware of any plans to follow the lead of Columbia City Council and challenge Gov. Henry McMaster’s ban on requiring masks in schools.
Over the weekend, the teachers’ group SC for Ed called on city and county governments to challenge the state law banning mask requirements. Columbia City Council defied McMaster last week and passed a mask mandate for elementary and middle schools in the city that Attorney General Alan Wilson said violated state law.
On Monday, South Carolina House Democrats took to Twitter, asking McMaster to call a special emergency session of the General Assembly to repeal what’s known as Proviso 1.108. “School districts and municipalities must take action as COVID cases surge across South Carolina,” the tweet read.
In Horry County, officials in Conway, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach said on Monday that they were not aware of any official discussions about bypassing state law and requiring masks in schools.
Dillon County administrator Clay Young said his county does not have plans to pursue a mask mandate for schools. However, he said the county will continue to work with its school districts and provide them with the support they need as the school year resume amid the surging pandemic.
Last week, the city of Florence released a statement saying officials they were monitoring the legal situation concerning masks and receiving guidance on the pandemic from local health care partners. There is currently nothing related to the school-masl fight scheduled to go before city council, according to Amanda Pope, a spokesperson for the city.
“We ask that residents continue monitoring the situation and be mindful and courteous of others as recent reports indicate an increase in the number of cases locally,” the statement read. “We strongly encourage the use of facial coverings, social distancing, and most importantly vaccination. Together we can help to protect our citizens, particularly those who are not old enough to receive the vaccination and those with compromised immune systems. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.”
News13 has reached out to officials in Darlington, Florence, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties to find out their plans but has not received a response. Count on News13 for updates to this ongoing story.