Hello, this is Lydia Quinn with the Lancaster County School District following up on the information we sent out on Tuesday concerning the Governor’s Executive Order concerning face-coverings in schools. This morning, we have received additional information from Ryan Brown, Chief Communications Officer, with the South Carolina State Department of Education.
After a thorough legal review of Executive Order 2021-23, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) finds no legal grounds by which the Governor can set aside a policy and regulatory directive issued by another constitutional officer or constitutional board whose power is not derived from the state of emergency nor the Executive Branch but by the South Carolina Constitution and Code of Laws. This power is reserved solely for the South Carolina General Assembly. The Governor thoroughly understands the rule of law and surely recognizes this but has been successful in his mission of circumventing public health guidance by inciting hysteria and sowing division in the waning days of the school year.
Rather than wage a debate over constitutionality that would pit elected officials, students, and families against one another, Superintendent Spearman has, effective immediately, rescinded the state face covering policy with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government. The SCDE recommends school boards and administrators confer with their legal counsel as to what liability protections, if any, are provided by DHEC’s opt out form. Superintendent Spearman and the SCDE continue to urge schools and districts to follow DHEC’s public health guidance as they have throughout the pandemic.
DHEC’s form is posted here - https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/D-4286.pdf
Chief Communications Officer
South Carolina Department of Education
If a parent/guardian of a Lancaster County School District student wishes to have their student opt-out of the face-covering requirement, the form must be completed for each child and returned to the school. Again, if you want to have your child opt-out of the face-covering requirement, complete the form found at the link above and return it to your child’s school.