AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign an executive order by tomorrow that would restrict public schools in Georgia from mandating masks.
Right now, only students older than 12 can get a COVID-19 vaccine, and that’s why some teachers are concerned about the governor’s decision.
Georgia’s Governor says schools can encourage masks but not enforce it.
Dr. Cecil Bennett, Medical Director at Newnan Family Medicine says, “If you have looked at the science, what we have learned is that children under 12 – if they do get 12 they are asymptomatic and are low risk to begin with.”
The governor says Georgia’s curve has flattened with record low hospitalizations and infections because of an uptick in COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I believe it’s reasonable to not mandate mask wearing but for parents to make that decision,” says Dr. Bennett.
But some teachers say the decision should be left to local school boards instead.
Lisa Morgan, Kindergarten teacher and President of Georgia Association of Educators says,”Until fully vaccinated we believe everyone should continue to follow the guidelines. When we are around our students who are not eligible to be vaccinated we are going to wear masks and maintain social distancing.”
The governor says school-aged children do not spread COVID-19 at the same rate as adults do
and only in rare circumstances experience severe cases if infected.
“I strongly you can encourage it not mandate it. Everyone is able to get vaccinated if you are over 12,” says Dr. Bennett.
Lisa Morgan says, “It is not fully over. Our elementary students are not eligible yet to be vaccinated. The average for May is 100 students until 17 years are testing positive for COVID-19, the pandemic is not over.“
The new policy on would go into effect next Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
This is not the first time the governor has issued a mask mandate, which would prevent local jurisdictions from superseding that decision.
Georgia’s School Superintendent, Richard Woods issued a statement agreeing with Governor Kemp,
“Given the availability of vaccines and the sharp drop in COVID cases, I agree with Governor Kemp that it’s time for our schools to return to normalcy.”Richard Woods, Georgia School Superintendent