The Georgetown County School District Board of Trustees decided that masks will be no longer required in schools within the school district. The most recent decision was voted on the Tuesday evening meeting.
Georgetown School District board members initially wanted to continue the mask mandate, but they were strongly opposed from parents and community members.
“Masks are not effective,” said David Ellison, a parent who spoke at the meeting. “That’s what the science says. That’s what the data says. Even the containers for the masks say they are for medical use only. They are not to stop the spread of viruses.”
The actual vote the board took was to continue its current plan while striking any reference to the state budget proviso baring districts from enforcing mask mandates. GCSD is one of the first districts in the Lowcountry to take up the issue since a federal court ruled against the proviso – temporarily blocking it – a week ago. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the proviso two days later, but Superintendent Keith Price says the federal court’s ruling is what triggered the discussion on masks.
“Had this decision been made a month ago, their [the board’s] decision tonight would probably had been very different,” Price said. “I think the overall frustration was knowing that we could have put things in place to ensure safety and bring some comfort to our constituents earlier.”
However, what is worth mentioning is the fact that the number of cases in the area was pretty high at the beginning of September, but the number of cases especially in the schools was rapidly going down ever since.
If we take the numbers into consideration, we can easily assume that the current Covid-19 situation in Dorchester County is more than stable and the proviso had secondary role in the voting.
“A month ago, we were seeing nearly 2,600 students in quarantine. Today we are at 176 in quarantine,” Price said. “That is a welcome sign of relief, and our hope is that the worst of the Delta Variant is behind us.”
Majority of parents believe that wearing face masks in school is ok, but say that the parents should decide on themselves.
There are parents like Ebony Hughes who think that mask mandates in no way hurt parents or the students.
“We are already under mandates now,” Hughes said. “Students cannot attend school without certain vaccinations. We can’t even wear whatever we want to wear to school. We have to be decently covered. This is no different. We are still in a pandemic.”
The attendees agreed Tuesday evening that the mandate might be enforced again if new spike in cases is seen in the future.