Parents demand school mask mandate after COVID-19 outbreak among fifth graders

Southeast

COBB COUNTY, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — Parents are demanding an Atlanta-area school district reinstate a mask mandate after COVID-19 case numbers have risen among children in the area.

The Cobb County School District encourages mask wearing among students, but it is currently optional.

Since July 1, there have been a total of 253 COVID-19 cases, according to the district’s website. An entire fifth grade class in Cobb County was sent home for virtual learning after a significant number of students tested positive.

Parents protested Thursday outside the school district’s office to demand a mask mandate.

“We will peacefully demand that CCSD’s duty to protect the health and welfare of our children while they are at school is upheld,” an organizer and parent said.

In a Facebook page for the event, an organizer explained they are doing this to get the school district to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics.

The CDC and AAP both recommend masks for children and teachers in schools due to the rise of the delta variant and lack of vaccine approval for children under 12.

Masks in schools remains a heated issue, and some parents in other states are protesting against mandates.

In the Nashville area, parents surrounded and attempted to intimidate health care workers who came to advocate in favor of a mask requirement.

Schools across the U.S. have a patchwork of different rules as they try to keep classrooms open during the coronavirus pandemic, but in several states GOP leaders banned districts from requiring all kids to wear masks.

With infections and hospitalizations on the rise and vaccinations out of reach for young children, districts in blue-leaning urban areas especially are rebelling against the laws and requiring masks in schools — even if it means facing consequences from governors and courts. Districts in Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Broward County, Florida, are among those defying their state’s mask laws.

While Georgia does not have a mask mandate ban, the state’s governor has not encouraged mask-wearing in school.

In May Gov. Brian Kemp announced, “We’re not going to have a mask mandate for our kids.”

He has not commented on the rise of cases in Cobb County. Officials from the school district have also not given a response to calls for a mask mandate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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