There is no mandatory mask requirement
As states continue to debate the 2020-2021 school year amid the coronavirus pandemic, one Georgia town has made their decision — all students will return to in-person learning this Friday with no mandatory mask requirement.
Districts around Jefferson, Georgia have either delayed back-to-school plans or moved to online learning for the fall, but city school officials announced school starts on Friday and all students should be in class. Masks, which have been shown to help prevent the spread of the virus, will be “strongly encourage” but not mandatory.
According to The New York Times, the reopening plans have divided Jefferson, a city of 12,000 people (3,800 students). An online petition created by two Jefferson High seniors called for a mandatory-mask rule, which over 600 people have signed. Another petition demanding that masks be optional for students has more than 200 signatures, one leaving a comment, “Only liberals can get rona and I’m not a liberal,” and another writing, “TRUMP2020 no mask fo me.” Trump won almost 80 percent of the vote in Jackson County during the 2016 election.
Late last week, Trump said schools in areas that are continuing to see spikes in coronavirus cases should delay reopening. He’s also said schools that don’t reopen for in-person learning shouldn’t be included in the proposed multibillion-dollar aid package, tweeting, “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” on July 8th.
Jefferson is northeast of Atlanta and the county has had 13 coronavirus-related deaths, and an infection rate of 1,067 per 100,000 people. Nearby counties have seen double and triple those numbers, according to The Times. As of today, the state of Georgia has over 170,000 cases and 3,509 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Trump has continued to downplay the seriousness of the virus, telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace of the virus, “I’ll be right eventually. I will be right eventually. You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again.” He also said the U.S. has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world when, in fact, the U.S. has the seventh-highest.
As schools contemplate how they will reopen — be it in person, online, or a hybrid approach — parents also must make a decision: Do we feel like schools are doing everything they can to keep kids safe if they do go back and, if not, do we choose to homeschool instead? For the parents of Jefferson, Georgia, the decision for an all in-person fall semester leaves them just a few days to choose.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.