Hampton Co. schools reflect on mask policy change over past couple weeks

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:18 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - It’s now been three weeks since a federal judge temporarily blocked a ban on masks in South Carolina schools.

Hampton County Public Schools started requiring masks at all campuses, including Ben Hazel Elementary, about two weeks ago.

Leah Stanley is the district’s teacher of the year. Her priority is clear.

“We got to do what we got to do to keep the schools open,” said 3rd grade teacher Leah Stanley.

And when it comes to mandatory mask wearing, she puts her opinion to the side to make sure in-person schooling continues and everyone feels comfortable.

“Even if my personal belief is I don’t really care about this mask, I’m just gonna be respectful of you and make sure I’m wearing it if that’s going to make you feel safe.”

The third grade teacher says her school has had low infection numbers, before and after the mandate.

“We didn’t have that many quarantines that had to happen, it wasn’t that many that we had to do whole classes. It really wasn’t that bad at all.”

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case across the whole county over the past year, but now new infections are starting to go down. Still, Stanley says most people she talks to older than eight or nine are against the new mask policy.

“I’ve heard more negative things like oh we got a put a mask on now but you know I think it’s more about just making sure we can stay open and keep our kids safe and do what we have to do to make sure we all stay safe.”

She says for the most part her third graders, who are the oldest kids in school, are doing well with the mandate, but knows it’s more difficult in other classrooms.

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