Sumter School District to allow students, staff to opt out of mask use


In response to McMaster's Tuesday order, Sumter School District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox announced district employees will be given the option to opt out as well as parents for their students but that visitors to schools are still required to wear masks.

The decision came Wednesday afternoon in a letter to district families. In the letter, she wrote that the form developed by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control that parents can fill out to opt their children out of wearing a mask in school is available at A separate form must be filled out for each child.

"Although the governor's executive order relaxes the mask mandate in our schools, DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided guidance stating that the wearing of face coverings slows the spread of COVID-19. Failure to wear a face covering may subject a student or employee to an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading COVID-19 to others," Martin-Knox wrote.

The letter states students and staff who test positive for or are exposed to COVID-19 will still be subject to DHEC's guidelines for quarantine and isolation.

"It is imperative that our students and staff continue to follow safety guidelines established by the CDC, specifically physical distancing, washing hands, disinfecting facilities, staying at home when sick and following school bus and classroom safety protocols," Martin-Knox wrote. "Students should not share supplies, masks or food."