Lee County School District adds to call for proviso repeal; now all tri-county districts want reversal on statewide mask mandate ban


School leaders in Lee County are joining the fight to convince state lawmakers to repeal an amendment in the state budget that prohibits mask mandates in schools.

Lee County School District Board of Trustees introduced and unanimously approved a resolution on Thursday compelling the state's General Assembly to reconvene and repeal Proviso 1.108. The proviso states public school districts can't use state funds to implement mask mandates for students or staff. If any district goes against this condition, it risks losing state funding.

LCSD will join other tri-county districts - Clarendon School Districts 2 and 4 and Sumter School District - in the effort.

The resolutions come at a time when, in the past weeks, other school districts in South Carolina have started to unite against the Republican-dominated Legislature to overturn the proviso, which was passed in July. School officials, parents and education advocates said the Legislature passed this proviso at a time when COVID-19 cases and deaths were dropping in the state, but the situation has changed.

Now that school has started, a rise in coronavirus cases across the state has led to thousands of students and staff members having to quarantine.

Lee County school officials said that by joining this effort, they are taking measures to reduce the risk of a child's exposure and hope to get a universal mandate for students and staff in schools that was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and top health experts.

As of Thursday, LCSD has had 29 students and employees who have been quarantined since the beginning of the school year. The district has more than 1,565 students enrolled and about 350 staff members.