Per a directive from the state Department of Education on Thursday, Sumter School District will also be requiring face masks on its school buses for students and staff beginning Monday.
District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox sent a letter to all school district families on Friday afternoon regarding the update as Sumter begins its third week of school next week.
The state and local district requirement regarding masks on buses now is in line with a current federal health rule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that requires face coverings on public transportation.
In her letter, Martin-Knox said, starting Monday, district bus drivers will offer a face mask to any student who boards a school bus without one.
She said the district strongly encourages students and staff to wear a face mask in school buildings to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court will hear two cases involving mask requirements and the state budget proviso passed by the General Assembly in June that prohibits school districts from requiring face masks in school facilities lest their state funding be affected. Most talking on the record construe that amendment to be unclearly written.
In a similar case recently with another unclear proviso, the high court said the University of South Carolina could impose a mask requirement after reviewing legislative intent. After, numerous colleges across the state followed suit, implementing mask mandates, including USC Sumter and Central Carolina Technical College.
Martin-Knox also said in her letter that if an individual is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or lives in a home with a family member who has tested positive for the virus, he or she should not come to school until protocols have been followed.
Details regarding COVID-19 protocols can be found on the district's home page of its website, www.sumterschools.net.
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