COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – The South Carolina Department of Education has rescinded the state’s face-covering policy effective immediately.

That announcement comes with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said in the announcement on Wednesday, Gov. McMaster has “no legal grounds” to let parents opt out of school or district mask rules. That decision must be made by the state assembly.

She also said the governor is “circumventing public health guidance by inciting hysteria & sowing division” as the school year ends.

The change in the rule comes after Gov. McMaster ordered DHEC to create a form for parents to sign to opt their children out of wearing a face mask at school. “It is ridiculous for school districts to tell parents whether or not their child should wear a mask in the classroom, that is up to the parent,” McMaster had posted on his Twitter account.

“It was time that most parents, I think, agree that they should have the option of having their children not wear masks at schools,” McMaster said to reporters after speaking at Horry-Georgetown Technical College Wednesday.

Spearman sent this letter to superintendents:

District Superintendents,

After a thorough legal review of Executive Order 2021-23, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) finds no legal grounds by which the Governor can set aside a policy and regulatory directive issued by another constitutional officer or constitutional board whose power is not derived from the state of emergency nor the Executive Branch but by the South Carolina Constitution and Code of Laws. This power is reserved solely for the South Carolina General Assembly. The Governor thoroughly understands the rule of law and surely recognizes this but has been successful in his mission of circumventing public health guidance by inciting hysteria and sowing division in the waning days of the school year.

Rather than wage a debate over constitutionality that would pit elected officials, students, and families against one another, Superintendent Spearman has, effective immediately, rescinded the state face covering policy with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government. The SCDE recommends school boards and administrators confer with their legal counsel as to what liability protections, if any, are provided by DHEC’s opt out form. Superintendent Spearman and the SCDE continue to urge schools and districts to follow DHEC’s public health guidance as they have throughout the pandemic.