After SC Supreme Court ruling, Richland County won’t enforce school mask ordinance
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Officials with Richland County say it will no longer enforce the emergency ordinance requiring masks in most school buildings, following the ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
In an declaratory judgement action released Thursday, the South Carolina Supreme Court found that the ordinance passed by the City of Columbia mandating masks in public schools is in violation of Proviso 1.108 of the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act. The court says enforcement provisions of the ordinance place the responsibility of enforcing the mask mandate on school personnel, which would force them to violate either state or local law. According to officials, Richland County’s mask ordinance was used as a basis for their own ordinance.
Click here to read the South Carolina Supreme Court’s full judgement.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed the suit against the City of Columbia over its institution of a mask mandate in schools last month, because he says it violates state law. This came after Columbia City Council approved Mayor Steve Benjamin’s declaration of a state of emergency on August 5. The mayor announced a mask mandate for elementary and middle schools in city limits. With Friday’s statement from the county, it will no longer be enforced.
While a mask mandate will no longer be enforced by the county, Richland County Council Chair Paul Livingston says it is important to take steps to protect children in schools.
“Safeguarding the well-being of schoolchildren and their opportunity to learn is of the utmost importance,” Livingston said. “Richland County will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and consider how we can best assist our local school districts in their duty to educate our children safely.”