May 13, 2021 -- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a new order on Tuesday that prevents local governments and schools from creating mask mandates.

Under the executive order, parents will decide whether their students will wear masks, not school administrators or school boards.

“We have known for months that our schools are some of the safest places when it comes to COVID-19,” McMaster said in a news release.

“With every adult in our state having the opportunity to receive a vaccine, it goes against all logic to continue to force our children — especially our youngest children — to wear masks against their parents’ wishes,” he said.

As part of the order, the state’s Department of Health and Environment Control and Department of Education will develop a standardized form that parents can sign to opt their child out of mask requirements.

The executive order also prohibits county or local governments from using prior COVID-19 state of emergency declarations to enforce local mask mandates.

“Everybody knows what we need to do to stay safe — including wearing a mask if you’re at risk of exposing others — but we must move past the time of governments dictating when and where South Carolinians are required to wear a mask,” McMaster said in the statement.

In addition, the order bans local governments, state agencies and state employees from requiring a “vaccine passport” or proof of vaccination for residents to receive government services or gain access to any building, facility or location.

“Vaccine passports will have no place in South Carolina,” McMaster said. “The very idea is un-American to its core.”

COVID-19 cases continue to decline in South Carolina, NPR reported. The state reported a 4.7% positivity rate on Wednesday, along with 182 new confirmed cases, 177 new probable cases, four confirmed deaths and three probable deaths, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control.

More than 3.1 million people in South Carolina have received a vaccine, according to the department’s latest update on Monday Nearly 44% of adults in the state have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 35% are considered fully vaccinated.

Show Sources

NPR: “South Carolina Governor Bans Mask Mandates.”

South Carolina Office of the Governor: “Executive Order No. 2021-23.”

South Carolina Office of the Governor: “Gov. Henry McMaster Issues Order Empowering Parents to Decide On Masks in Schools, Restricts Local Mask Mandates, and Prohibits Vaccine Passports.”

South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control: “COVID-19 Data, reported May 12, 2021.”

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