Federal judge grants injunction, temporarily blocking SC school mask mandate ban

The latest update on the debate over mask mandates in schools
Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A ruling on Tuesday said South Carolina is prohibited from enforcing their school mask mandate ban, according to court documents from the U.S. District Court of South Carolina.

This decision is part of a temporary injunction against Budget Proviso 1.108, the law that prohibits school districts from using state funds to enforce face masks for students or employees.

The office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson says that the AG plans to appeal the ruling.

In response to the ruling, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s office released a statement saying:

“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.”

In a tweet released by Governor McMaster on Wednesday, the governor said that his office has already filed a notice of appeal.

The S.C. Department of Education said they will provide guidance on what this ruling means for schools and school districts.

The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis after the ACLU filed a lawsuit against South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson, State Superintendent Molly Spearman, and others. the lawsuit claims the proviso discriminates against at-risk students, like those who have asthma, by not allowing districts to enforce masks.

DHEC says it continues to recommend mask wearing in schools.

Judge Lewis says that the Proviso violates Title II, Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the ruling, Title II requires that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.”

The ruling determined that “there is little harm to enjoining Proviso 1.108 and permitting the public-school districts to satisfy their burden to make reasonable modifications under Title II and Section 504.”

In her ruling, Lewis noted that “It is also generally true that parents are the ones who know their children best, what is best for their health, and their ability to learn. But, those same truths apply equally to all parents, including the parents of children with disabilities.”

Judge Lewis concluded that an injunction against the mask mandate would be in the public’s interest, as the idea of allowing school districts to choose their mask policies “aligns perfectly with Title II’s and Section 504′s goals of creating a fully inclusive society that protects its most vulnerable, and integrates children with disabilities into our society.”

According to the ruling, Lewis says that Children 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.”