Richland 1 superintendent responds to Columbia mayor’s emergency mask order in schools

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Following an emergency order from Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin calling for students between ages 2 and 14 to wear masks at schools, Richland 1 is encouraging mask use.

“We will do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. That has been our priority and it continues to be our priority as we prepare for the new school year,” Richland 1 Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said in a statement released shortly after Benjamin announced the order Wednesday afternoon. “We will encourage our students and staff to wear masks, which public health officials advise to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We also urge everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

Masks in schools have again become a political flashpoint as the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the Midlands and some politicians seek to limit mask requirements.

Other districts with Richland County schools, such as Richland 2 and Lexington-Richland 5, do not have schools within the city limits, spokeswomen for both districts told The State.

— Bristow Marchant contributed to this report.

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