Horry County Schools will not require students or employees to wear face masks on school property or on school buses this fall, according to the district.
“Our masking protocols follow state law and are not subject to change,” district spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement regarding school health and safety regarding masks, saying that their recommendation was that everyone older than age 2 should wear a mask in schools, regardless of vaccination status.
The reason? A large portion of the nation’s students are not yet eligible for the vaccine, which is allowed to be given at age 12.
“We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers — and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely,” said Dr. Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, in the AAP statement. “The pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on children, and it’s not just their education that has suffered but their mental, emotional and physical health. Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations are in line with the suggestion from the AAP as well.
S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman released her own statement on July 6. Spearman said that while the SCDE previously enforced the CDC’s January order requiring face coverings on public transportation, including school buses, that would no longer be the case.
"The SCDE will exercise its enforcement discretion granted within this order and will no longer enforce the face covering requirement on state-owned school buses,” Spearman wrote. “The use of face coverings by students and staff on school buses and within school facilities remains a recommendation of state and federal public health officials and Proviso 1.108 does not prevent districts from encouraging the wearing of face coverings in these settings.”
This Proviso 1.108, adopted by the General Assembly, said that no school district or any of its schools may use any federal funds to require students or employees to wear masks at any of their facilities.
Spearman's statement also said that any district found to be creating or enforcing a policy that mandates masks could possibly face a loss of state funding.
Bourcier said that these recent changes are reflected in the HCS Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan, (https://www.horrycountyschools.net/Page/16353), which she said no longer requires mask opt-out forms.