COUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman says districts should take steps to make “reasonable accommodations” for students with disabilities.
Tuesday, a federal judge said South Carolina can’t enforce its ban on mask mandates in schools — saying it 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.
Now Spearman said in a statement that schools and districts should “consult with their legal counsel on actionable steps that may need to be taken to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.”
Spearman said the judge’s ruling made it so mask mandates in schools is now legal, at least on a temporary basis.
The court order Tuesday temporarily blocked the Governor’s Proviso 1.108, which bans mask mandates in schools.
Judge Mary Gieger Lewis wrote, “It is true that the fundamental right of a parent to decide what is best for their child cannot be ignored. It is also generally true that parents are the ones who know their children best, what is best for their health, and their ability to learn. But, those same truths apply equally to all parents, including the parents of children with disabilities, such as a minor plaintiffs here.”
Lewis compared mask mandates to adding ramps to schools so students with mobility-related disabilities could attend school.
Horry County Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson released a statement after Spearman, saying:
“The Horry County Board of Education is aware of the federal judge’s recent ruling regarding Proviso 1.108. Legal guidance is being sought regarding the impact this ruling may have on Horry County Schools. Should there be any further comments or potential responses provided by the Board, they will be made at the next scheduled board meeting, October 11, 2021.”
Florence District 3 Director of Communications and Technology Brian Huckabee also released a statement saying:
“The safety of our students and staff during this pandemic remains FSD3’s top priority. The district will continue requiring students and staff to wear masks while inside district facilities and on school buses.”
You can read Superintendent Spearman’s full moratorium below: