Gov. McMaster calls school mask mandates ‘ridiculous’; here’s what officials had to say

Coronavirus

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Gov. Henry McMaster said he would like to see mask mandates at schools and remaining COVID-19 restrictions in counties and cities lifted.

He posted his thoughts on his Twitter page Wednesday.

The governor said parents, not the school districts, should decide on whether or not their child wears a mask at school. He wrote on Twitter: “It’s time to unmask our children.”

“I think it is the height of ridiculosity for a school district to make that decision for the parents,” McMaster said. “Even when the virus was rampant, schools were the safest places of all.”

The Department of Education said since schools have followed health and public safety guidelines, all school districts in South Carolina can offer full face-to-face instruction safely.

Chief Communications Officer Ryan Brown said in a statement: “By following the mitigation strategies recommended by public health experts, South Carolina is one of only a handful of states in which every school is fully open to in-person learning. We would advise districts to continue to follow these guidelines and if the Governor feels that they are no longer needed, he has the power to issue an executive order directing districts to abandon them.”

McMaster also suggested having all COVID-19 restrictions in place by counties and municipalities across South Carolina lifted immediately.

McMaster wrote in his tweet: “The whole point of getting the vaccine was to get back to normal.” Vaccines have been available to everyone over the age of 16 for a few weeks now in South Carolina.

“People are pent up they want to do things,” the governor said. “Except in some circumstances, there is no reason to hold them back anymore.”

The South Carolina Association of Counties said there aren’t many restrictions left in place from county governments that they know of.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, as of Thursday evening, 6 counties and 46 cities and towns have mask mandates.

Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Joshua Rhodes said some of these counties may just be waiting for their current ordinances to expire.

“Counties certainly have that ‘home rule’ authority to look out for their citizens… Where we are in the pandemic, I don’t see a lot of that going on,” Rhodes said.

We reached out to the Municipal Association of South Carolina and have not heard back yet.

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