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South Carolina Governor Orders Schools to Allow Mask Opt-Outs, Bans Vaccine Passports

    While parents around the country still face state authorities and local school boards that refuse to allow children to take off their masks, one state governor is issuing an order to force schools to respect the right to do so: South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

    Gov. McMaster issued an executive order to prevent local governments and school districts from mandating the wearing of masks. Parents can now opt their children out of wearing masks in schools.

    “With the COVID-19 vaccine readily available and case numbers dropping, I will not allow local governments to use the state emergency declaration as a reason for implementing or maintaining mask mandates,” McMaster said in a statement.

    “Everybody knows what we need to do to stay safe—including wearing a mask if you’re at risk of exposing others—but we must move past the time of governments dictating when and where South Carolinians are required to wear a mask. Maintaining the status quo ignores all of the great progress we’ve made,” the Republican governor added.

    “A statewide mask mandate has never been imposed by the governor, however school districts and local governments were able to independently choose whether to impose the restrictions,” one organization notes. “The state education department currently requires that students and staff in public schools wear masks upon entering the building, while moving through hallways, during pickup and drop-off, and when it isn’t possible to practice social distancing,” it added.

    “With every adult in our state having the opportunity to receive a vaccine, it goes against all logic to continue to force our children—especially our youngest children—to wear masks against their parents’ wishes,” the governor said. McMaster’s order also banned “vaccine passports” in the state.

    Meanwhile, confrontation between parents and school boards over the mask mandates continues to grow. In South Carolina, the governor has sided with the parents. The political headwinds in red states are growing for governors to continue to do so.


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    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.