Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday parents should be responsible for deciding whether their child is masked in school — not the federal government, the state or the state’s Department of Education.
The governor’s guidance — while unchanged — comes as state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman has called on students and teachers to wear masks during the upcoming school year. Like McMaster, she’s also urged eligible people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Parents know their children,” McMaster, who is vaccinated, told reporters. “They know what’s good for them.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new health guidelines as states, particularly in the South, are recording growing cases of the delta variant, hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated people. The guidelines include wearing masks indoors in places with high or substantial transmission COVID-19.
But the education department said it can’t require the masks, citing a law that was attached to this year’s state budget — called a proviso — that they say prevents districts from requiring students and staff to wear masks while at school.
“I think people in the state have gotten the message loud and clear that this is a decision for them to make and the state has done exactly what it’s supposed to do that is to give them the means to help and protect themselves,” McMaster said. “And it’s almost impossible to get away from the information to disseminated from competent sources, producing it for the people of our state. I think we’ve done the right thing.”
Even with the new guidelines released by the CDC, McMaster said he would not wear a mask.
“I’ve had the virus, and I’ve been vaccinated. So has Peggy,” McMaster said, referring to his wife. “I do not plan to wear a mask.”