Aiken County School Board talks possible mask mandate

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:51 PM EDT
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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Aiken County School Board held a meeting Tuesday where we are expecting COVID and quarantine updates as well as talks about a new federal program that could make it easier for the district to enforce a mask mandate.

In the most recent data just released today, the county reports having 209 positive student cases. That’s a drop of 141 cases compared to the 350 reported the week before. There are around 4,700 students in quarantine. That number was more than 5,000 in last week’s data.

We spoke to the Aiken County School Board Chairman and he says he wants to learn more about the new federal grant program before they even consider passing any type of mandate.

They are talking about it Tuesday night and this comes one day after the district sent parents a survey.

“One way it scares you because they’re actually thinking it, but two you’re glad they actually said something,” said an Aiken County parent.

This survey asking parents if they support a mask or vaccine mandate concerns one Aiken County parent who asked to remain anonymous. He home-schooled his child last year because of the district’s mask mandate and if they put one back in place he’ll do it again.

“That was the only reason my kids went back this year, is because they dropped the mask mandate,” said an Aiken County parent.

The school board is talking about a new grant program that would make it easier for the district to enforce a mask mandate. The board’s chairman supports a mandate but they haven’t passed one because of South Carolina state law that would take away funding.

“I’m not gonna do anything to put the school district in jeopardy unless there’s some protection for it, and even then it has to be pretty solid,” said Dr. John Bradley, Aiken County Board of Education Chairman.

Bradley wants to know when and how much money the grant program would give. He also says they have an attorney at the meeting to answer legal questions.

“I really want to know exactly what they’re willing to pay for and what they aren’t before we even talk about gambling,” he said.

We asked the chairman if he thinks the board will pass a mandate Tuesday night and he says he would be extremely surprised if that happens. They didn’t release the results of that survey to us. We’re not sure yet if they’ll release those in the meeting either.

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