SC capital’s mayor mandates masks in schools

Education

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2020 file photo, Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C., right, looks on as U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, left, speaks with a voter outside a polling place in Columbia, S.C. During a city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, Benjamin said that he was considering issuing a new state of emergency for the city, a declaration that he said would allow him to impose mask requirements. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The mayor of South Carolina’s capital city has issued a school mask mandate, which he says would protect vaccine-ineligible children amid the coronavirus’s resurgence.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made that proclamation Wednesday.

The effort puts the Democrat at odds with Republican Gov. Henry McMaster as well as the GOP-controlled Legislature, which recently barred such policies for all public schools. A new legislative measure prohibits mask mandates in South Carolina’s public schools.

Benjamin says he feels he has the authority to impose one for students in his city.

Benjamin told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he plans to use city, not state, funds to provide masks in the city’s elementary and middle schools.

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