COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW/WCBD) – Parents must use the state’s facemask opt-out form if they want their child to attend school without a mask.

In response to the Governor’s executive order on Tuesday, the facemask opt-out form that schools must use, unaltered, to get parental or legal guardian consent for a student is available here.

In order to be valid, the form must be completed without change by the parent or guardian (or student, if age 18 or older).

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Department of Education said Governor McMaster has no legal grounds to implement a directive on face mask policies in schools.

Below is a statement the SC Dept. of Education issued to South Carolina school districts regarding McMaster’s executive order:

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pit elected officials, students, and families against one another, Superintendent Spearman has, effective immediately, rescinded the state face covering policy with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government.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.

DHEC’s recommendations regarding COVID-19 precautions, including wearing face masks, have not changed. Wearing face masks and taking other precautions are important disease prevention methods that protect not only the person wearing the mask but also those around them.

DHEC continues to follow CDC guidance, backed by multiple research studies, that masks are an effective and essential tool for protecting the health of all South Carolinians during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

All students, staff, and others in schools should continue to wear masks through the end of the current school year.