Masks to be mandatory for kids on school buses
By Bobby Bryant
With a tiny tweet last week, state education officials made a big change official: All S.C. students will have to wear face masks when they ride school buses.
In a Twitter message sent out July 23, the state Department of Education appeared to end its debate over masks on buses when S.C. schools try to reopen this fall after being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Students and drivers will be expected to wear masks,” the department’s tweet said.
The state agency said “significant changes to keep students and teachers safe” are going to be necessary for the upcoming school year. “This starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon when students ride the bus to and from school,” the agency said.
First, the masks. Second, buses will only be half full to allow for “social distancing.”
In addition, the agency said, “Buses will be loaded back to front. Roof vents and windows will be opened to maximize ventilation.”
A day earlier, state Education Superintendent Molly Spearman told an S.C. House committee that the department was leaning toward making everyone masks on school buses.
“It is absolutely clear, and that’s why all South Carolinians should put on a mask and wear it, so that we can get back to school,” Spearman said. “So I am contemplating that requirement and I do believe I do have that authority to require that, particularly in transportation since we own all the school buses in the state.”
Darlington County public schools are planning to reopen Sept. 8, assuming the pandemic allows it. County Education Superintendent Tim Newman has said face masks will be required for students in grades 3-12 attending in-person classes. In the lower grades, K-2, masks will be encouraged but not required.