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Schools Back on Normal Schedule

Daniel Prince

Mask mandate now in effect

All Union County Schools will be operating on regular schedule today. School district officials state that they have been in constant contact with the local Department of Transportation to determine road conditions for this morning. Temperatures stayed above freezing overnight, which should help road conditions. The district said bus drivers have been instructed to use their judgement and not risk going on unsafe roads. If your bus is unable to come down your road tomorrow, contact your school, and they will work with you.

This will be the first day of school since the school board passed its temporary mask mandate last week. The temporary mask mandate is for all students and staff of Union County Schools. The main purpose is to stay inside DHEC guidance while not being forced to quarantine students who are not testing positive for COVID. Last week, nearly 1000 students were placed on quarantine as close contacts of someone with COVID, and four schools were shut down.

The district says: "While safety of our students will always be our top priority, we realize that removing students from their learning environment constantly is costing large amounts of instructional time that we can never recover, leading to learning gaps our children should not have to deal with. If your child still wears their own mask, please have them wear it to school. The district will also have masks on site for students needing one." Students with a documented medical reason for not being able to wear masks will be exempt from this policy. The policy is in effect through the school board’s February meeting, at which time they will look at the COVID case numbers and quarantine numbers and determine if the mask measure still needs to be in place.

While the state Supreme Court ruled the state budget proviso banning mask mandates constitutional, a federal court has ruled that the ban on mandates cannot be enforced until a federal lawsuit is settled. That lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, stating that the ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, school districts are free to issue such mandates until the lawsuit is decided one way or another. The budget proviso will expire at the end of June, unless another proviso is passed in this year’s budget or the state legislature enacts a law to that effect.

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