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Coronavirus

Court Keeps South Carolina School Mask Mandate Ban on Hold

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina districts can continue to require face coverings in the state’s schools under an appellate court’s decision.

On Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s request that South Carolina’s law prohibiting school mask mandates be allowed to take effect while a lawsuit over the measure goes forward.

Last month, a federal judge suspended the state from enforcing its rule banning school districts from requiring masks for students. Wilson and Gov. Henry McMaster, both Republicans, had appealed that temporary restraining order, asking the 4th Circuit to restore the ban to avoid changing mask policies across the state now that students are back at school.

The back-and-forth stems from a lawsuit filed by parents of disabled children, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that South Carolina’s ban discriminated against medically vulnerable students by keeping them out of public schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

According to state health data, about 75,000 students, teachers and school staff have been infected with COVID-19 this school year, and nearly 200,000 have had to quarantine because of close exposure.

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