Monday, August 16, 2021
The following is a statement by Scott Price, Executive Director of the South Carolina School Boards Association, calling on the SC General Assembly to give local school boards and districts the ability to make decisions locally regarding the health and safety of their school communities.
Columbia, S.C. — The South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) calls upon members of the State General Assembly to suspend temporary provisos regarding masks in schools and virtual learning, or take whatever steps necessary, to empower local school boards and school districts to make local decisions in order to better protect students and staff as the 2021-2022 school year begins.
The surge in COVID-19 cases in communities across the state and, even more alarmingly, among school-age children who are not yet eligible for a vaccine must be addressed by those who ultimately bear responsibility for the well-being of students and staff. Budget provisos enacted in the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act including the prohibition of mask mandates in schools and severely limiting the numbers of students who can be taught in a virtual environment have impaired local boards and districts at a time when parents are demanding steps be taken to keep students safe. Local boards, along with their superintendents, continue to carefully weigh health and safety information and guidance at the state and federal level as they make decisions for the students and families in their communities.
“For us, it’s not about whether or not masks are required in schools, or if virtual learning should be an option at this time. It is, however, about who is best positioned to monitor and modify safety protocol and make the best decisions to keeps students and employees safe – your local school board,” said Scott Price, SCSBA executive director. “Treating this pandemic responsibly and keeping kids in schools is the top priority of local school districts. The Legislature should step back and let them do their job!”