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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

'Take This Virus Seriously' SC Superintendent Urges Parents In Push For COVID Vaccines, Masks

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman says she disagrees with Gov. Henry McMaster, who says parents should decide whether their kids wear masks in schools.

An item tucked into the South Carolina budget prohibits school districts from requiring masks. That decision should be left up to local school boards, Spearman said.

“We have two ways now to make that happen," Spearman said. "Either the legislature comes back in, and I have asked them to do that continually, or this ends up in the courts and the courts resolve it.”

Spearman urged parents to get vaccinated and send their kids to schools with masks on as a way to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and the highly contagious delta variant.

“Parents, please listen to your doctors," Spearman said. "Let’s not go by what we read on social media, let’s do what these folks are asking us to do.”

According to the state’s epidemiologist, nine school districts have started school and in less than two weeks there have been 141 cases in students and 34 cases in school staff.

The Charleston County school district voted Monday night to require masks in schools. The Richland County council has also approved emergency mask rules Monday night to require the face coverings in some schools and daycares.

Education groups are pushing for lawmakers to repeal the ban.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.