Beaufort County school board holds meeting, discusses potential mask mandate

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Tuesday night’s Beaufort County school board meeting resulted in passionate discussions between members regarding whether or not to mandate masks for students and faculty.

The board nearly voted on the matter, but decided to postpone the decision until they can seek legal advice regarding potential ramifications from the state.

In June, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster passed Proviso 1.108, which states, “No school district, or any of its schools, may use funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a face mask at any of its education facilities.”

On Monday, the Charleston County school board voted to mandate masks for its students and staff, potentially opening the door for other school board’s to do the same. The only question is the potential legal fallout that may come at the cost of doing-so.

“Now we have a law that says we can not mandate, so if we did, we would have parents and probably an equal number of parents writing us saying, you are violating the law,” said Richard Geier, representing Ditrict 5. “And our answer would be, yes we are, and where do we go from there?”

“We’re not talking about mandating vaccinations for staff. We’re talking about having an unvaccinated teacher in the classroom with this (a mask) standing between them and infection with one of the most infectious viruses we’ve had in modern times. I think it’s crazy,” said Ingrid Boatright, representing District 11.

Members of the board will resume session at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to decide when to vote on enforcing a potential mask mandate.

On Monday, Hilton Head Island’s mayor declared a state of emergency due to surging COVID cases in the area. That comes on the same day Hilton Head High School had to postpone their opening football game due to a number of positive tests on the team.

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