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Sumter School District seeking stakeholder input on temporary mask mandate

According to the district, responses to a new survey will be used to “guide discussions” on how to slow the spread of the virus.

SUMTER, S.C. — After weeks of deciding against a mask mandate, the Sumter School District is now asking parents, students, and other stakeholders if they should consider temporarily requiring masks.

The new, two-question survey asks if masks should be optional and the respondent's connection to the district.

Michelle Giampopo, who says she’s been protesting at the district office for weeks for additional safety measures, is for the mandate.

“We want them to wear masks,” Giampopo said. “We send them to school and we want them to be safe. Especially, in this time when Corona is really big.”

RELATED: Sumter School District "working around the clock" as cases, classwork cause worry among some parents

But families are split on the matter, which could lead to a temporary mask requirement at Sumter Schools.

“My answer was no it should not be mandated; it should be an option,” Emileigh Thynes, who has five children in the district, said. “If people want to wear a mask, nothing is stopping that from happening.”

According to the district, responses will be used to “guide discussions” on how to slow the spread of the virus, but it’s unclear if any action will be taken.

State law prevents schools from requiring masks at risk of losing funds.
Still, some districts have done it, including Richland School District One.

RELATED: 'Our children are under attack:' Columbia parents file lawsuit over masks

Parents are now suing that school system, saying it has violated the law.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread leading hundreds of students and staff to test positive and thousands to be quarantined.

RELATED: Sumter approves $4.5M in federal funds for local projects

“Though thankfully, daily case numbers have seen a recent decline, I wouldn’t say we’ve rounded the corner just yet,” Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said at a weekly coronavirus briefing. “Cases can certainly fluctuate at any given time and we may experience a surge again…. Increasing vaccinations and masking are the keys to beating COVID-19.”

Giampopo and Thynes are just hoping for a sense of normalcy.

How they get there, could come, in part, from survey responses.

The survey will close Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. and can be accessed on the Sumter School District website.

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