Provisio 1.108. (SDE: Mask Mandate Prohibition): No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities. This prohibition extends to the announcement or enforcement of any such policy.
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) interprets the above language to mean that school districts are prohibited from requiring students and employees to wear a facemask while in any of its educational facilities for the 2021-22 school year. Educational facilities include all property owned and operated by the individual district.
Districts may not create or enforce any policy, which would require the wearing of face coverings. Should a district decide to act contrary to this law, state funding may be withheld.
Clarification of Provisio
Is a district allowed enforce a mask requirement on school buses?
Yes. While the state will not be enforcing a face mask requirement on school buses, individual districts may choose to do so. Proviso 1.108 only covers educational facilities and does not extend to school buses.
Is a district allowed to require visitors to wear a mask?
Yes. Proviso 1.108 only speaks to the prohibition of a mask mandate for students and staff. Because the proviso is silent to visitors, districts may choose to enforce such a policy.
Is a district allowed to require students and staff to wear a mask in the nurse’s station and other healthcare areas of the school facility?
Face coverings may be required by students, staff, and visitors in healthcare areas of school facilities. Locations designated for healthcare, testing, or for awaiting pickup due to illness are considered healthcare facilities. Examples include health rooms and athletic trainer offices. As such, infection control policies and practices are held to healthcare facility standards and expectations and may differ from policies of non-healthcare school facilities. Individuals being assessed, tested, or dismissed from attendance due to respiratory symptoms should be required to wear a face covering while in these designated healthcare areas and also when transiting to/from these areas.
Is a district allowed to encourage masks in its educational facilities?
Yes. While districts are prohibited from requiring students and staff from wearing a mask, Proviso 1.108 does not prevent a district from encouraging the wearing of a face covering.
PLANNING FOR THE YEAR
As MCSD plans for the opening of school and activities, we want to encourage everyone to continue following recommended best practices that have been vetted with DHEC, CDC and our Local Health Advisory Committee.
• The good hygiene practices and sanitizing protocols for all facilities in place at the end of the school year should remain in place as we start the new year.
• Continuous monitoring of students’ health will be important in identifying those who might be infected with the virus.
• Encourage students to speak up when they feel sick or notice that someone else might be.
• Encourage the use of masks for those students who feel compelled to do so.
• Concerning visitors to buildings, continue to practice social distancing as feasibly possible.