Two parents are suing the City of Columbia and Richland County over its mask mandate

Xin Xin

Why some parents don't want their children to wear masks?

In a poll by, 63% of parents support mask mandates, compared to 36% say they are against mask mandates. KFF asked:

Do you think your children's schools should require unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks when they are at school, or not? (asked of parents of children ages 5-7)?

And this what is on the CDC website:

CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

In South Carolina, two Richland One parents are suing the City of Columbia, Richland County, and Richland One for requiring students to wear masks.

Their reasons:

1. Mask mandate prevents their children from getting an education.
2. Mask mandate is a blatant violation of South Carolina state law.

One of the parents was quoted by Wach Fox 57:

"These are our children. We know how to protect our children. If the mask works for you, wear it. You may not force it upon somebody else. If the vaccine works take it, you cannot force that on somebody else," said Curlin.

In the lawsuit, the parents say their children were not allowed to go virtual and be allowed back at school. As a result, one of the parents said her 9-year-old, now a 4th grader in one of the schools, experienced shame and mental anguish.

"He's been shamed by other students even if it falls. If it fell under his nose, he would be shamed by teachers, students, and even the vice principal said to him she did not want to get her child - her babies sick at home and the baby die. Now that is a mental issue that she is putting on my son that never even needed to be said," said Curlin.

The city of Columbia approved an emergency mask ordinance, which will last 30 days, and Richland County voted to enact its mandate set to last 61 days.

While the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson's suit to declare the City of Columbia’s school mask mandate void, the SC Supreme Court ruling comes from the fact that mask mandates by the City of Columbia are in direct conflict with Proviso 1.108 of the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act."

Proviso 1.108 was an item in the state budget that went into effect in July that threatened school districts with losing state money if they required masks.
They specifically ruled this way because the enforcement of the ordinance unequivocally places responsibility to enforce the mask mandate on school personnel, forcing school employees to choose between violating either state or local law.

When the ruling came out, Mayor Steve Benjamin of the City of Columbia had this to say in his tweet.

The City of Columbia’s stance is the same now as it was before we enacted our emergency ordinance requiring masks in our elementary and middle schools: we will always act to preserve and protect the lives, health and safety of our children. This is a sad day for children in SC.

The legal remedy being pursued by these South Carolina parents isn't unique to the state as other lawsuits are underway in other states like Pennsylvania, but legal experts say they don’t expect the claims to succeed; courts have long upheld states' authority to regulate public health. But they also didn’t rule out the prospect of surprise rulings.

And while the lawsuits are happening, South Carolina still has 7 COVID-19 positive children on ventilators as of September 17, 2021.

South Carolina Children's Hospital Collaborative shares the sad news of 7 kids on a ventilator on their Facebook page.

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