Federal judge overturns South Carolina school mask ban

A federal choose has suspended South Carolina from implementing a rule that banned college districts from requiring masks for college kids

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A federal choose Tuesday suspended South Carolina from implementing a rule that banned college districts from requiring masks for college kids.

Mother and father of disabled kids, helped by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the state saying the ban discriminated in opposition to medically weak college students by retaining them out of public faculties because the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The masks ban has been forcefully backed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and GOP lawmakers who stated dad and mom ought to determine whether or not college students put on masks, not college officers.

The ruling wasn’t even a detailed name, U.S. District Choose Mary Geiger Lewis wrote, stopping the state from implementing a one-year ban positioned within the price range.

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“It is noncontroversial that children need to go to school. And, they are entitled to any reasonable accommodation that allows them to do so. No one can reasonably argue that it is an undue burden to wear a mask to accommodate a child with disabilities,” Lewis wrote.

Lewis in contrast the Common Meeting stopping masks necessities to telling faculties they will now not set up wheelchair ramps.

“Masks must, at a minimum, be an option for school districts to employ to accommodate those with disabilities so they, too, can access a free public education,” the choose wrote.

McMaster’s spokesman Brian Symmes stated Tuesday’s ruling is not the final phrase within the case.

“The governor strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and will defend a parent’s right to decide what’s best for their children up to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary,” Symmes stated in an announcement,

The ruling wasn’t a shock as a result of the rights of medically fragile college students had been violated, stated Susan Mizner, director of the ACLU’s Incapacity Rights Program.

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The Republican-dominated South Carolina House put the provision into the budget in June when the state was seeing an average of about 150 new COVID-19 cases a day.

Not long after the delta variant caused a spike in cases similar to last winter before vaccines were widely available. Well over 21,000 students have been infected with COVID-19 this school year and nearly 100,000 have had to quarantine because of close exposure, according to state health data.

The budget provision didn’t outright ban districts from requiring masks, but said state money couldn’t be used to enforce a mask requirement. State money is tied into most regular school funding, although some lawmakers told school boards they could require masks and hire employees to enforce the requirement with federal COVID-19 relief money.

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Several districts have gone ahead and required masks. Other school boards have asked lawmakers to come back into session and change the rules, which they so far have refused to do. They have been joined by groups of doctors, teachers and school administrators.

Attempts to get the state Supreme Court to allow mask requirements in schools or overturn the provision have failed.

Lewis wrote in her ruling that she was following federal anti-discrimination law and not making a comment on whether the General Assembly’s provision was “COVID incompetence.”

“Some have also contended that the politicalization, by both opponents and proponents, of the decision to forbid local school districts from requiring students to wear a mask at school is gravely wrong. Literally. But, that question is not before the Court,” the choose wrote.

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Observe Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.