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Richland Two to require face masks following judge's order

District administrators are putting this requirement in place after a federal court ruling was announced on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Beginning Thursday, September 30, Richland School District Two will again require students and employees to wear face coverings in schools. 

District administrators are putting this requirement in place after a federal court ruling was announced on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. 

On Tuesday, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of Proviso 1.108 that limits a school district's ability to require face masks.

In a memorandum to superintendents, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said, “The immediate effect of the Court’s order is that both the state and local school districts are prohibited from enforcing Proviso 1.108 and school districts now have the discretionary authority to require masks.”

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On September 28, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a temporary...

Posted by South Carolina Department of Education on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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District officials say the face covering requirement is consistent with the district’s practice of following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regarding mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in schools when not prevented by state or federal law.

Per district administrative rule ADD-R, employees and students will wear a face covering while in indoor common areas (e.g., main office, lobby, hallway, workroom, cafeteria, etc.); while in classrooms; while on district transportation; while attending a school/district related event/activity (e.g., athletic event, performance, field trip, etc.); and while conducting business on behalf of the district (e.g. conducting a home visit, supervising athletic events, etc.). The requirement also applies to visitors while at school/district facilities in indoor common areas (e.g., main office, lobby, hallway, workroom, cafeteria, etc.); while in classrooms; while on district transportation; and while attending a school/district related activity/event (e.g., athletic event, performance, field trip, etc.).

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Officials say requiring masks, in addition to the existing Health and Safety Protocols already in place, strengthens Richland Two’s ability to fulfill their most important obligation to our families, "providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students."

District officials say the Richland Two Board of Trustees and school district leaders "are extremely grateful for the temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis," blocking enforcement of South Carolina’s budget proviso (1.108.), which prevents school districts from enforcing mask mandates for students and staff. 

In August, Richland Two petitioned the S.C. Supreme Court for declaratory and injunctive relief from South Carolina’s budget provision (1.108.). The S.C. Supreme Court has not ruled on that matter.

RELATED: Richland Two asks SC Supreme Court to temporarily block mask mandate ban