AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – “It’s just not right to have them mandate it,” said 8th grader Jonathan Vasquez.

Tuesday Columbia County school leaders made their decision on the mask mandate. Now many people say they are fighting back.

Laura Sheipp said, “We’ve had pandemics of the flu here before, that was never an issue. We were never trying to cover our kids’ faces.”

The protestors say it should be a family’s choice whether to mask.

“Do not force it on my child or force it on me that I need to wear one,” said Sheipp.

Jeff Taylor’s kids are graduates of Columbia County schools and he has another in high school. He says the school system has been run well up until this point.

Jeff Taylor said, “The leadership has caved to the fake news and social media pressures instead of actually doing their own research and coming up with the correct data to the correct decisions.”

A lot of drivers passed by the group on Hereford Farm Road outside the school board, honking their horns in support of the more than 50 protestors.

“How do we enforce it? What’re the repercussions for non-compliance? None of those questions are being answered. None of that documentation is being provided. And since Governor Kemp, the school boards cannot tie their mask mandate to his state of emergency, that’s no longer, I’m actually questioning their legal authority to even do this,” said Taylor.

While parents call for answers, the school board is using state data to back their solution for the rise in cases among Columbia County students.

The Georgia Department of Health keeps track of statewide cases based on ages and counties.
According to the chart of school aged Covid-19 Surveillance report.. Columbia County saw a steep incline in cases among children ages 5 to 17 over the past 14 days. The chart lists Columbia County in the “High” category with cases reportedly increasing.

Back at the protest, some parents say they are planning to sue the school district if the mask mandate is not lifted. Jeff Taylor wants school leaders to schedule a public forum about the mask issue.

Taylor said, “Civilized of course. Not just a few minutes at some board meeting and let’s talk this out. Let us bring our data to support our position. Let the people on the other side bring their data to support the position. But right now, the school board wants nothing of it. You either comply or go home.”

The Columbia County School Board is scheduled to meet on September 14th at 5:30pm. Seating may be limited.