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Horry County Schools superintendent does not recommend mask mandate for district

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The superintendent for Horry County Schools said he is not recommending a mask mandate for the entire district.

Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey made the announcement during Monday’s Board of Education meeting, which was the first one since a federal judge ruled against a state proviso that prevents school districts from implementing a mask requirement.

Proviso 1.108 prohibits school districts from using state funds to enforce mask mandates. But a couple of weeks ago, a federal judge ruled that the proviso discriminates against children with disabilities.

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During his presentation, Maxey showed there has been a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases among students and staff since Sept. 3 when cases hit their peak. He said based on the drop in cases and quarantines, it would not be appropriate to implement a mask mandate.

He explained that the court ruling puts it back in the school district’s hands to decide whether to require masks in the classrooms.

“Puts that focus of control back in local hands so we can make that decision for our students and our employees, and I’m certainly glad to have that ability,” said Maxey.

Maxey added that if there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the district, they will look at where the spike exists and address the problem there. He said he may make a recommendation to implement a mask mandate at certain schools where there is an uptick in cases, much like when they moved certain schools to virtual mode when there was a spike in cases and quarantines.

“I would certainly be making a recommendation that we look at a mask mandate for schools that may be impacted or an attendance area, but we would not, at this time, recommend to the board that Horry County Schools have a mask mandate,” Maxey said.

He said that the school district will continue the steps already being taken to mitigate COVID-19 in schools, such as limiting visitors, encouraging social distancing, having hand sanitizing stations and following the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s rules for contact tracing.

Maxey also encouraged parents to not send their students to school if they are feeling sick. Horry County Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson also chimed in on the issue and said when he talks to school nurses, their number on concern is parents sending their child to school when they’re not feeling well. They ask that you keep your child at home if they are sick.

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