McMaster says law ‘very clear’ in banning school mask mandates

State - Regional

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during the rollout of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s new company, Nephron Nitrile, which CEO Lou Kennedy says will manufacture medical gloves as part of an effort to shore up the U.S. medical supply chain, Thursday, July 15, 2021, in West Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says that he sees a city-enforced school mask mandate as a violation of state law.

South Carolina’s capital city on Thursday ratified an ordinance mandating the use of masks in Columbia elementary and middle schools for at least the beginning of the school year. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says the move will help protect children who are too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

But a state budget proviso prohibits South Carolina educational institutions from using appropriated funds to mandate masks.

It’s that provision that McMaster, a former prosecutor, says preempts the city’s action.

On Friday, South Carolina surpassed 2,500 daily COVID-19 cases.

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