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Parent, healthcare leaders react to mask requirement at Muscogee County schools

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 7:14 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - We are a little more than a week away from some students starting the school year in Muscogee County. Wednesday, school leaders announced students and staff will be required to wear masks this fall.

All staff and students within the Muscogee County School District will have to wear face masks when inside district buildings/schools and people have mixed feelings about it.

The news that all staff and students must wear face masks for the upcoming school year comes less than 48 hours after the Muscogee County School Board held a virtual town hall meeting where, at the time, school officials said masks would be optional.

The district says the change of reopening plans comes after recently updated guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.

“CDC recommends that everyone in K to 12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director.

The CDC cites the Delta variant and not enough Americans getting vaccinated as apart of that reasoning.

But not all parents are happy. In fact, Katherine Hunter, mother of a second grader within Muscogee County, says she is planning on homeschooling her son now. ”I think the school district has not been proactive enough. I think they have taken too much of a wait and see approach. At their virtual town hall event, they didn’t seem to be in step with their own medical experts who were on the call.”

According to the statement from Muscogee County Schools, they relied heavily on the the school’s medical panel before making the decision. The panel consists of local doctors and health experts.

Terri Jordan, owner of ACE Healthcare, who sits on that panel, says it was her recommendation to go without masks because science suggests that children have low viral loads when it comes to COVID. ”And when they have a low viral load, that means their transmissibility is much lower than the adults who have the traditional symptoms and multiple studies support that like John Hopkins, Singapore.”

Others feel differently.

“If all the children and teachers wear masks, then everyone is the same. It is like a school uniform as opposed to some children who wears masks and others don’t, that leads to segregation and bullying,” said Dr. Joe Kaplan, emergency physician.

The school district says they will continue to monitor the hyperlocal COVID-19 conditions and make adjustments as needed.

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