MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Schools districts across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions said they’re continuing with their same policies for the time being after a federal judge ruled South Carolina can’t enforce its ban on mask mandates in schools.
In a statement, Horry County School Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson said Wednesday afternoon that the district is seeking legal guidance about the impact of the ruling before moving forward.
Earlier Wednesday, the district said the judge’s decision was being reviewed and that the district was waiting for guidance from the South Carolina Department of Education. Horry County Schools next board meeting is Oct. 11.
Florence County School District 2 Superintendent Neal Vincent said he is also taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We haven’t had time to look at it in great detail,” he said. “The State Department of Education put out a memo this morning, but our policy is the same as at the beginning of the year.”
A spokesman for Florence School District 3 said student safety remains the district’s top priority.
“The district will continue requiring students and staff to wear masks while inside district facilities and on school buses,” said Brian Huckabee, the district’s director of communications and technology.
In Dillon County, a spokesman for School District 4 said nothing has changed as a result of the judge’s ruling. The district is still recommending that masks be worn inside schools.
Dr. John Kirby, superintendent of Dillon School District 3, said he had no official reaction to the ruling. He added that the issue could be talked about at the district’s next board meeting.
South Carolina’s attorney general said Wednesday he will appeal a federal judge’s ruling saying the state cannot enforce its ban on mask mandates in schools.
“We disagree with the judge’s position and we plan to appeal,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement that offered no other comment about Tuesday night’s ruling blocking the enforcement of Proviso 1.108, which prohibits the use of state funds to enforce mask mandates in state schools.
Judge Mary Gieger Lewis said that the violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and discriminates against children with disabilities. Under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, public schools cannot exclude students with disabilities or segregate them unnecessarily from their peers. Schools are also required to provide reasonable modifications to allow students with disabilities to participate fully.