COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – With most of South Carolina’s students heading back to school, state education and health leaders are encouraging students and their families to wears masks and get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’re eligible.
During a news conference Tuesday morning, officials with the State Department of Education, state health department, and the South Carolina Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics (SCAAP) talked about ways students can return to school safely.
Superintendent Molly Spearman said following the advice of doctors will help keep schools in South Carolina open. She said, “Get vaccinated. Send your child to school with a mask on. Not just for their protection but for the community of children they are in the classroom with.”
Pediatricians said the spread of the more contagious delta variant is leading to more children in South Carolina with acute COVID rather than MIS-C.
Dr. Annie Andrews with the SCAAP said, “The delta variant changes how we think about this disease in children.” She also said universal masking in schools provides ‘maximum protection’ for children.
Right now, school districts, under a budget proviso, cannot enforce and implement a mask mandate, if they do they would lose state funding lawmakers have said. Superintendent Spearman said she believes the decision should be handled by local school boards. She said, “I disagree with the Governor on this.”
Governor Henry McMaster has repeatedly said it should be up to the parents to decide whether or not a students wears a mask in schools. He said he doesn’t believe state lawmakers need to repeal the mask mandate ban proviso.
You can watch the full press conference below: