Clarendon 4 School District trustees pass resolution urging S.C. General Assembly to repeal state proviso


Clarendon School District 4 Board of Trustees passed a resolution Monday night urging the state's General Assembly to repeal the proviso in the state budget that prohibits mask mandates in schools.

In a 6-1 vote, with Parliamentarian John Hardy voting down the motion, school board members agreed to sign a resolution pleading with the General Assembly to reconvene and rescind Proviso 1.108 in the state's new budget that was passed this summer. The measure prevents schools from using state money to require that students or employees wear facial coverings in school buildings. If they go against the measure, districts can risk losing funding.

Clarendon 4 trustees want to tackle the controversial proviso that bans mask mandates in K-12 schools to reduce COVID-19 exposure to students and employees.

Angela Bain, the district's superintendent, said this proviso needs to be changed because of how the pandemic has changed in recent months. The continuous outbreaks of coronavirus cases have increased since this summer when COVID-19 cases averaged 150 new cases a day. Now, the Palmetto State is averaging about 5,000 new cases a day, and increasing deaths are putting a strain on health professionals. Bain said with these alarming new numbers, it is time to send a message to the state's General Assembly that they are pushing back against the proviso.

As of Friday, Sept. 17, the district has a total of 131 students and 28 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19, which has resulted in 657 students and 26 staff members quarantined since school started in mid-August.

Clarendon 4 will join other school districts across the Palmetto State, including Sumter School District and Florence School District 3, that passed a similar resolution. Board members planned to send the resolution on Tuesday to the state Department of Education, and it will make its way to the General Assembly and finally Gov. Henry McMaster's office. School officials still "strongly encourage" students and staff to wear masks in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health agency guidance.

Attempts to reach Hardy about his opposition to the resolution were made but were unsuccessful.