Earlier today (Wednesday, May 12th), Lexington County School District Three released a statement that it would continue to operate under the same face mask guidelines that have been in place since the beginning of the school year. This came in response to Governor Henry McMaster issuing Executive Order 2021-23 on Tuesday, allowing parents and guardians to provide consent for their students to opt out of face covering requirements in public schools. Legal ambiguities surrounding the Executive Order and the absence of the required opt-out form led Lexington Three to make this decision.
However, after that statement was released by Lexington Three, the following update was sent out by the South Carolina Department of Education:
After a thorough legal review of Executive Order 2021-23, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) finds no legal grounds by which the Governor can set aside a policy and regulatory directive issued by another constitutional officer or constitutional board whose power is not derived from the state of emergency nor the Executive Branch but by the South Carolina Constitution and Code of Laws. This power is reserved solely for the South Carolina General Assembly. The Governor thoroughly understands the rule of law and surely recognizes this but has been successful in his mission of circumventing public health guidance by inciting hysteria and sowing division in the waning days of the school year.
Rather than wage a debate over constitutionality that would pit elected officials, students, and families against one another, Superintendent Spearman has, effective immediately, rescinded the state face covering policy with the exception of the school bus requirement that is now required by the federal government.
As a result of this new information and in an effort to remain in compliance with the SC Department of Education, Lexington Three is lifting the mask requirements that have been in place in the district since the beginning of the school year. Parents/guardians who would like for their child to not wear a face covering while inside of a Lexington Three building should fill out the official Face Mask Opt-Out Form that is located on our website (www.lex3.org) under the Quick Links section at the top of the homepage. This form must be completed and returned to your child’s school in order for your child to not be required to wear a face covering. Schools will begin accepting forms for students on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Please note that Gov. McMaster’s Executive Order does not change the face mask requirement on school buses. All staff and students must continue to adhere to the face covering requirement while on-board a school bus.
While face masks will no longer be a necessity in our schools, Lexington Three still encourages all staff and students to practice social distancing, avoid close contact with individuals who are sick, and wash their hands frequently. Our school maintenance staff will also continue to adhere to stringent sanitation guidelines in an effort to keep our schools as free from illness as possible.
Anyone with questions can contact their child’s school or the Lexington Three District Office.