South Carolina prosecutor: Law bars city’s school mask order

Coronavirus

FILE – In this April 30, 2021 file photo, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson speaks to attendees at the Richland County GOP convention in Columbia, S.C. The University of South Carolina can’t lawfully require students and staff to wear face coverings on campus this fall, despite increasing cases of coronavirus, thanks to recent legislative action, according to the state’s top prosecutor. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

(AP) — South Carolina’s top prosecutor says state law prohibits the city of Columbia from instituting a school mask mandate intended to cover children who are age-ineligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

Attorney General Alan Wilson wrote to Mayor Steve Benjamin that the recently-approved measure is “in conflict with state law and should either be rescinded or amended.”

Columbia leaders last week ratified an ordinance mandating the use of masks in the city’s elementary and middle schools for at least the beginning of the school year.

South Carolina is now averaging nearly 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day and hospitals in the state are filling up fast.

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