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SC attorney general says Columbia’s school mask mandate violates state law

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson notified Columbia City Council that its...
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson notified Columbia City Council that its recently-ratified school mask mandate is in violation of state law.
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s attorney general notified the Columbia City Council and its mayor that the city’s recently-passed school mask mandate is against state law and said the city must take action or face legal consequences.

“It is the opinion of my office that these ordinances are in conflict with state law and should either be rescinded or amended. Otherwise, the city will be subject to appropriate legal actions to enjoin their enforcement,” Attorney General Wilson wrote to council members. “While we appreciate the efforts of city leaders around the state to protect their populace from the spread of the COVID-19 virus and variants of it, these efforts must conform to state law.”

Senate President Harvey Peeler and House Speaker Jay Lucas had written to Attorney General Wilson to let him know the legislature’s intent was to ban mask mandates in schools.

The legislature passed a budget proviso saying, “No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities.”

Wilson told Columbia City Council members that encouraging face mask wearing by city officials and even requirements for face masks in city buildings and other facilities would not violate the proviso.

“Also, parents, students, and school employees may choose to wear facemasks anywhere at any time,” Wilson wrote.

Wilson asked council members to let his office know by the close of business Friday what efforts they will undertake to bring the city’s face mask ordinances for schools “into compliance with state law or if any further clarification is needed.”

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