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Students, teachers plead for state lawmakers to repeal budget provisos at "Protect our Kids" vigil

Educators and students gathered at the State House to call on state lawmakers to repeal its budget proviso that prevents mask mandates and the funds to enforce them.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The steps of the SC State House are lined with 61 luminaries to represent 61 lives lost to COVID-19 in schools across the state. 

“I have no choice but to put my life in your hands, yet you continue to fail me," said Richland Two student Nacala McDaniels.

Students, teachers, and parents are pleading for state lawmakers to repeal the statewide budget provisos in schools.

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“Tragically, many have lost someone they love to COVID. Would their lives have been back to normal more quickly if our state leaders had supported mitigation strategies rather than fighting against them?," said one area parent Kristi Schrader.

They are challenging state officials for withholding state funds from schools that enforce mask mandates and place a cap on virtual learning.

“Although there are coronavirus vaccines available, children under the age of 12 are not eligible. You have intentionally put every student and every family at risk due to the budget provisos that you have set in place," said McDaniels.

RELATED: SC education advocates ask SC General Assembly to repeal mask proviso

Senator Mia Mcleod was one of the two senators present at the vigil along with Senator Mike Fanning.

“The lives we lost. All of this is preventable and it’s sad that only of us are here today. We were supposed to be in session, but that didn’t happen," said Senator Mcleod.

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McLeod said she is an advocate for repealing the budget provisos, but was outnumbered by the rest of the Senate.

“We can’t continue to not consider the lives of our babies, our teachers, our staff members, our families, our communities," said McLeod.

She said it is unlikely, though, the Senate will come back for a special session.

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