The University of South Carolina will be rescinding a mask mandate after the state’s Attorney General reminded USC that it violates a state order.
“The USC, whose campus in Columbia serves more than 35,000 students, on July 30 announced that everyone must wear masks at all times inside all campus buildings, regardless of their vaccination status, except in private offices, residence hall rooms, or while eating in campus dining halls,” the Epoch Times reported.
USC Interim President Harris Pastides was forced to announce that the mask order had to be walked back in a statement on Tuesday.
“I deeply respect all persons’ rights to make their own choices, and I respect our federal and state governments’ roles in guiding our university,” Pastide said.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson sent a letter to the USC administrators instructing that it was about to be in violation of a state order.
“A public institution of higher learning, including a technical college, may not use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students have received the COVID-19 vaccination in order to be present at the institution’s facilities without being required to wear a facemask,” the state’s amendment reads.
The South Carolina legislators had clearly meant to keep state-funded organizations, including universities, from imposing mask mandates.
“It is our understanding that the [amendment], while inartfully worded, was intended to prohibit the mandatory wearing of masks, as reflected in its use of the language ‘without being required to wear a face mask,’” Wilson wrote in the letter. “It is important that the university, not only abide by the [amendment], but that it protect the constitutional liberty of students, faculty and staff.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said on Monday in an interview with Fox News that children “can’t learn” if they have to wear masks in the classroom.
“We’re going to let the parents decide, but there is no confusion among the parents,” the Republican governor said. “We have seen what happens when these children are subjected to requiring masks so they can’t perform, they can’t learn.”
The state government is one of a handful pushing back against the reimposition of mask mandates in universities, including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Arizona and Utah. The governors in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have restricted local officials’ ability to implement mask mandates.