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Sumter schools to require students, employees, visitors to wear face masks in schools

Students are still required to wear masks on school buses as well

SUMTER, S.C. — A federal court order paved the way for Sumter School District to implement a mask requirement for all schools in the district, effective Monday Oct. 4. 

During a special called meeting on Wednesday, the district's Board of Trustees voted to implement the requirement after a federal court ruling was announced Tuesday, September 28, 2021. 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.  

RELATED: Federal Court blocks SC’s ban on mask mandates in schools

A South Carolina State Department of Education memorandum sent to district superintendents on Wednesday said school districts now have the discretionary authority to require face masks. 

Students were already required to wear face masks on school buses.   

RELATED: SC education superintendent says schools can issue mask mandates

Here are the policies set forth by Sumter school superintendent Dr. Penelope E. Martin-Know.

  • Wear a face mask inside of school facilities and on school buses.
  • Ensure physical distancing to the greatest extent possible.
  • Practice hand washing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Clean and maintain healthy facilities.
  • Conduct contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine.
  • Obtain a vaccination for those who are 12 years of age and older.
  • Stay at home when exhibiting symptoms and/or testing positive.

Beginning Monday, October 4, 2021, Sumter School District will require students, employees, and visitors to wear face...

Posted by Sumter School District on Friday, October 1, 2021

South Carolina Department of Education Guidelines for Face Masks

  • A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth.
  • Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
  • Mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head.
  • If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.
  • Mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Mask should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.

The following attributes are additionally acceptable as long as masks meet the requirements above:

  • Masks can be either manufactured or homemade.
  • Masks can be reusable or disposable.
  • Masks can have inner filter pockets.
  • Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate communication with people who are hearing impaired or others who need to see a speaker’s mouth to understand speech.
  • Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements.

RELATED: Governor, attorney general want federal school mask ruling put on hold

The following do not fulfill the requirements:

  • Masks worn in a way that does not cover both the mouth and nose.
  • Face shields or goggles (face shields or goggles may be worn to supplement a mask that meets above required attributes).
  • Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas.
  • Shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose.
  • Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass through.
  • Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as vinyl, plastic or leather).
  • Masks containing slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
  • Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight).

RELATED: 'I feel so much more at ease': SC mother of high-risk student elated after school mask mandate ruling

RELATED: Face mask policies by South Carolina school district