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Masks optional for students at Lexington-Richland School District Five

The school board voted to make masks optional for students beginning Monday May 10. But students still must wear a mask when riding the bus.

IRMO, S.C. — The mask mandate in Lexington-Richland District School District Five will be lifted, effective Monday May 10.  

In a four to two vote, the board reached a decision, saying the mask requirement will be voluntary. Students will now have a choice on whether they wear a mask or not.

The Lexington-Richland Five Board of Trustees held a specially called meeting Tuesday night to discuss the current mask mandate. 

After listening to the community and a discussion, the board voted to lift the mandate starting Monday May 10th.

RELATED: 'Ridiculous:' SC governor says mask rules at schools need to be dropped now

Mother of two, Alan Wright said, "I am advocating for them to wear masks by choice in the classroom in schools."

While another of mother of two, Britney Nelson said, "To be honest I do not think it is healthy to wear a mask and we feel wearing masks is just as detrimental as others feel wearing masks is."

Board Chair, Jan Hammond, says this is not a simple issue.

"There are not many days left of this year, graduation is coming up. I felt like the board did not have lots of time to make any changes but it was very important to discuss it."

During public comment, parents in favor of keeping masks in place, expressed their concerns about the repercussions of lifting the mandate before the end of school year.

One community member said, "Are you all comfortable with someone dying under your leadership? When you wear a mask, you protect others, as well as yourself."

A music teacher in the district said, "I am distressed we are holding an emergency board meeting to discuss Governor McMaster's erroneous assertion that masks are no longer necessary to safely hold classes face to face."

RELATED: Community, teachers react to SC governor’s comment to drop mask requirements in school

Those against masks also spoke out as well. 

One community member said, "We can stop these masks by tomorrow, its 90 degrees outside and we have these babies who cannot breathe. It's not fair, and each and every one of you know that." 

Another said, "Some medical professionals say masks stop the flu. If the masks stop the flu, why haven't we been wearing masks for the past 30 years?"

Children will be required to wear a mask if traveling on the bus. 

According to the board, the school buses are owned by the State Department of Education and the department requires all students to be wear a mask when they get on the bus and while riding the bus.