‘We’re not going to do it’: McMaster continues to reject school mask mandates, urges vaccinations
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – As COVID-19 cases rise in the Palmetto State, Gov. Henry McMaster is encouraging South Carolinians to get vaccinated but insists school districts should not require face masks in the classroom.
“The new variant, the Delta there, it does pose a real threat. We know that it spreads more easily,” McMaster said in a press briefing Monday morning. “But shutting our state down, closing schools and masking children who have no choice - for the government to mask children who have no choice to protect adults who do have a choice is the wrong thing to do. And we’re not going to do it.”
McMaster - who previously tested positive for COVID-19 in December - said masks in the classroom make it difficult for teachers and students to communicate with one another. At one point, he used his difficulty in hearing a reporter’s question as an example of the challenges masks in the classroom could cause.
“That’s the problem, I can barely hear you,” he told the reporter. “Imagine if everybody in schools were masked. That’s the problem. That’s one of the problems. And you’re hollering.”
He noted the law is “very clear” on mask mandates, and parents should choose whether or not their child wears a mask in school.
Meanwhile, the governor continues to urge vaccinations, saying it is a great time to get the vaccine as students around the state return to the classroom.
“I’ve been vaccinated. I’ve believed that it works. Studies show that all of the vaccines, all three are highly effective against COVID and the new variant,” McMaster said.
While acknowledging the rise in cases, McMaster noted, “South Carolina’s economy must remain open.”
McMaster’s press briefing comes following a surge in COVID-19 cases in South Carolina in recent weeks.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed 311 more COVID-19 cases in Horry County on Friday and 2,535 additional cases statewide. The agency does not report new case numbers over the weekend, with data from Thursday, Friday and Saturday set to be released on Monday.
You can watch McMaster’s press briefing in its entirety below.
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