READ: Here are the temporary SC laws related to COVID-19, schools, masks and vaccines
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - From strongly worded letters, to court fights, to emergency ordinances, three provisos have been the source of debate among elected leaders as South Carolinians prepare to head back to school.
So what exactly do they say, and what does it all mean?
A proviso is a section of the state budget that functions as law for a year.
The provisos in question make it difficult for South Carolina schools, colleges, and universities to mandate masks or vaccines.
With the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant of COVID-19, the CDC and DHEC recommend people wear masks indoors whether they’re vaccinated or not.
But as the budget was ratified June 25, it was written and voted on before the dangers of the new variant were widely known.
Recently, the University of South Carolina moved to require masks at its indoor facilities. But State Attorney General Alan Wilson issued a letter saying that mandate was illegal, based on one of the provisos in the state budget.
And that’s not the only fight.
- Columbia city leaders approve state of emergency, mask mandates in city schools
- SC Supreme Court asked to decide if UofSC can mandate masks
- Kershaw County students return to classes as COVID cases surge in SC
Now some leaders are looking to the courts to rule on the provisos and decide exactly what they prevent, or don’t prevent, from happening.
Here is the exact wording of each of the laws state leaders are debating:
1.108. (SDE: Mask Mandate Prohibition) No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities. This prohibition extends to the announcement or enforcement of any such policy.
117.190. (GP: Masks at Higher Education Facilities) A public institution of higher learning, including a technical college, may not use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students have received the COVID-19 vaccination in order to be present at the institution’s facilities without being required to wear a facemask. This prohibition extends to the announcement or enforcement of any such policy.
117.163. (GP: COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Restriction - Institutions) For the current fiscal year, state-supported institutions of higher learning that directly or indirectly receive funds appropriated or authorized through the general appropriations act shall be restricted from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for any student as a condition of enrollment, attendance at on campus instruction, or residence on campus. In instances of off-campus learning events for which third party program providers require proof of vaccination, the third party requirements shall apply.
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