‘Make a bold statement:’ Citizens urging Rock Hill Schools to require masks; state law bans mask mandates in schools

Rock Hill Schools is strongly recommending masks for staff and students inside of school buildings, but people who live and work with students in Rock Hill say masks should be required.
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Rock Hill Schools is maintaining its mask optional policy following the South Carolina State Supreme Court ruling.

In a 5-0 decision the South Carolina Supreme Court has struck down the City of Columbia’s mask requirement for students and staff in all daycares, elementary, and middle schools.

State law says masks mandates are not allowed inside of schools.

Despite this, both York District 1 and Chester County School District District enacted mask mandates in August defying the mask mandate ban.

Thursday night the Rock Hill Schools Board of Trustees met to discuss COVID-19 protocols and cases.

RHS is strongly recommending masks for staff and students inside of school buildings, but people who live and work with students in Rock Hill say masks should be required.

“I’m asking this board passionately to please straighten your backs. York, Chester has done it I need y’all to make a bold statement,” said Norma Gray who lives in Rock Hill.

High School junior Logan Tinker agrees with optional masks.

“If I walk into a business and they want me to wear one then I’ll wear one but I don’t see how at school they can require it. That’s eight hours a day I just don’t think that can be healthy for you,” Tinker said.

Lancaster County Schools parent Courtney Green is also in favor of optional masks. She thinks the state Supreme Court should hold the Department of Education accountable for the mandate currently implemented on buses.

“Are they also gonna hold the South Carolina Department of Education to this same standard because they sent out a mask mandate for buses,” Green said.

All schools were required to comply with the mask mandate on school buses by August 30.

Thursday night, several Rock Hill Schools nurses said enough is enough.

They cited numbers and personal cases of people they see. These nurses told the board they are overwhelmed daily with COVID-19 cases and trying to adequately care for thousands of children.

“Something has to be done by the board, we cannot continue to function in this manner. We cannot continue with no end in sight, we can’t physically do it,” one nurse said.

WBTV reached out to York District 1 following the State Supreme Court ruling, they did not comment.

“The District is and continues to monitor updates concerning various legal challenges that were filed in South Carolina concerning the mask issue. The District will consult with its legal counsel to determine how the recent SC Supreme Court decision in Columbia impacts Chester County School District’s decision concerning the mask updates, and will comply as necessary. We ask our students and staff to please continue following the masking policy. Chester County School District stands by its decision to protect the health of its students and staff, and the rights of our students to receive a fair education in a safe learning environment,” a spokesperson with the district said.

RHS is continuing enhanced cleaning procedures, hand washing, social distancing, and strongly encouraging families and students to get vaccinated.

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