Protesters outside school board meeting at 75 Calhoun St. Aug. 23

The Charleston County School District (CCSD) said during an Aug. 23 meeting that administration will not be punishing students or staff who do not comply with the board’s recently passed mask mandate for schools.

Board Chairman Eric Mack read the board’s statement at the public meeting, clarifying that there would be no penalties for students who refuse to wear a mask, despite continuing to refer to the rule as a “mask requirement.”

“It is our collective opinion that wearing face masks in school is an important health and safety measure,” he said. “Our hope continues to be that everyone will comply with the mask requirement for the greater good of all; however, we also do not want students to be punished or sent home from school because we have seen what a year of disruption can do to all students, especially those most vulnerable at risk.”

Protesters lined up outside the Aug. 23 school board meeting where it was considering the district’s earlier mask mandate | City Paper photo

The statement requiring masks stands as a message, the statement reads, about the board’s belief that face masks are an important tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Mack pointed to a proviso in the state budget prohibiting mask mandates in public schools as the reason for why penalties could not be enforced for students who do not comply with the requirement.

The Charleston County School Board gave a broad statement during their Aug. 23 meeting addressing the mask requirement in accordance with state law

The Charleston County School District is just the latest public body to request action from state leaders to allow school mask mandates to be enacted as cases counts rise among students not yet old enough to be vaccinated.

“We call on the South Carolina General Assembly and Governor [Henry] McMaster to expeditiously reconsider state budget proviso 1.108 in order to allow our board to make the best local decision for the health and safety of all our students and employees,” Mack said.

The board of South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control voted unanimously to ask agency officials to ask House and Senate leaders to give districts decision-making power on mask mandates.

Anti-mask protesters gathered outside the building on Calhoun Street, where the meeting was held, to show their displeasure of the district’s mask requirement, which was passed during an emergency meeting Aug. 16. Dozens of people spoke during the allotted public comment period, where people on both sides of the mask issue made their case.

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