Over 11,000 parents in Aiken County respond to school survey regarding masks

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Sep. 22—The Aiken County Public School District received survey responses from over 11,000 parents regarding the mandate of masks in schools and the COVID-19 vaccine.

A total of 65.8% of parents agreed to support a mask mandate with 11,429 responses. A total of 62.5% of parents disagree with mandating students to take the vaccine with 11,400 responses.

"I would've predicted about a 50-50 split on both questions, so we got a little bit better on the masks than I thought we might, and fewer people wanted a vaccine mandate than I would have thought," Aiken County School Board Chairman Dr. John Bradley said Wednesday.

The survey was voluntary and for information purposes only. Bradley said the school board is not contemplating any actions based on the survey.

"The only thing that we can do, regardless of what the public wants, is either follow the law and do what we're doing or break the law and require some type of mandate," Bradley said.

Bradley said the school board is not in favor of breaking the law.

All of the members of the Aiken County School Board recently signed a resolution for the state Legislature asking for local control over mask rules and for the Legislature to revisit Proviso 1.108. Bradley said he mailed the letter on Wednesday morning.

Proviso 1.108 limits the district decision-making authority over mask use.

Only speaking for himself and not the board, Bradley said he would be in favor of a mask mandate.

"If it came to a vote, where we are right now, I would probably vote for a mask mandate. I don't think I would vote for a vaccine mandate; I don't think a vaccine mandate would stand. If the school board tried to do that, there would be some kind of immediate response from the Legislature," Bradley said.

Bradley said he personally feels that once all the vaccines get proper FDA approval and everything starts to settle down, the vaccine should be mandated along with the other shots children have to take before going to school.

In regard to the survey that was sent to parents, Bradley said, "It was not intended to gather support for a mandate." The survey was used to see how the public felt in case the proviso was to change because of the state supreme court.

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