Alabama lawmaker seeks to end school mask mandates

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The issue of whether to mask up during this pandemic continues to be emotional, and the debate over wearing face coverings in schools is a hot-button issue across the country.

Alabama Rep. Andrew Sorrell hopes his anti-mask mandate bill gets rid of all mandates in K-12 schools and instead allow parents to choose whether their child wears a mask in school. In Alabama, fewer than half of the public, charter and magnet schools have some form of mask mandates.

Sorrell’s drafted bill would require the state board of education to adopt new rules for controlling the spread of COVID-19 that do not require masks and would reduce funding by 5% for schools that keep their mandate.

“I would be just as opposed to local school boards saying that you couldn’t wear masks to school as I am them saying that you have to wear masks to school,” said Sorrell “I think that we should leave the health decisions up to the parents.”

A new national study reported that 60% of adults think masks should be worn in the classroom. However, eight states already have similar orders from their governors to stop mask requirements in the classroom. In Alabama, Sorrell says he has support.

“I’m getting contacted by probably 100 different people that have said thank you for taking a stand for medical freedom in Alabama,” Sorrell said.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels thinks lawmakers should focus on support for the medical community.

“I would suggest that we stay in our lane as legislators and support the medical community and scientists on the science of this and its impact as opposed to trying to grab headlines,” Daniels said.

If the bill gains more support, Daniels said he will be vocally against it.

“If in fact, Sorrell’s bill is mildly successful, which I don’t see any sane person supporting that deal,” said Daniels. “I will fight with it everything that I have.”

Sorrell hope the bill will be introduced during potential special sessions this fall. He thinks waiting until the regular session will be too late because that is too far into the school year.

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