Signs outside a Nation Ford High School building enforce the district's mask policy. (Photo by Greg Rickabaugh)

A Fort Mill parent plans to protest the mask requirements for students at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Alexis Benson said she will hold a “No More Masks Rally” at the board meeting, which starts with executive session at 5 p.m. and continues with the public session at 6 p.m.

“I will be speaking and quoting from many doctors, clinical psychologist and psychiatrist on the detrimental effects on all people but most importantly our children,” Benson told the Fort Mill Sun. “The damage it does on social emotional learning such as cues, facial recognition of emotion is far more advanced in finding than the ‘science behind cloth masks.'” 

Benson says the World Health Organization recommends masks for children 12 years old and older. “And only if there is a heightened risk of spread in numbers in a particular area or district,” she said.

She argues that parents should have the choice to have their kids wear or not wear masks. She says serious lawsuits might be filed if there is evidence of long-term damage to children from prolonged mask wearing.

Reaction from the School District’s Joe Burke: “The use of face coverings by all students and staff on buses and in all school facilities is mandated by the South Carolina Department of Education under the guidance of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The district is following this mandate while still offering students ‘mask breaks’ when circumstances allow for it.”

Benson said she is also upset with the district for “not offering children with special needs and with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) outside support or allowing them to go 5 days.”

Burke said privacy laws prevent the district from commenting on a specific student’s education plan or services, since Benson is talking about her child.

Some local residents have already responded to Benson’s comments on Facebook.

Just as Burke pointed out, one resident said the CDC recommends masks for children ages 2 years and older. The CDC website says, “Children 2 years and older should wear a mask over their nose and mouth when in public settings where it’s difficult to practice social distancing.”

Lori Vidonic also pointed out on Facebook that masks are required in all South Carolina schools by the state Department of Education.

According to the SCDOE’s website, students and staff in South Carolina public schools must wear a face covering upon entering a school building, moving through hallways, during carpool/bus drop off or pickup, and when social distancing is not possible or optimal. Student face coverings may be removed upon teacher or administrator direction while in the classroom or during special activities outside the classroom.

Here is the full agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting: