Troup County School System reinstates mask mandate, despite protests

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LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Tensions were high at the Troup County School System’s special-called Board of Education meeting where the board decided to reinstate a mask mandate for the upcoming school year. Parents and students attended the meeting and held a protest against the mask mandate.

Jodi Caldwell, the parent of two students in TCSS and the organizer of the protest, said she organized the protest because one of her daughters struggled with making relationships and experienced anxiety last year.

“I will say look at the facts, look at the data, look at the studies that have been done over the last year. The studies that show, that prove that mask wearing does nothing for the prevention or spread of COVID-19 and actually has a detrimental effect on the wearer,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell believes enough time has passed since the beginning of the pandemic and it is time to move on. She said she received tons of positive feedback from the community including teachers. Many teachers asked Caldwell to speak on their behalf against the mask mandate. They said they had experienced sores from the masks.

Caldwell said she wants to keep teachers safe this year while also keeping her daughters healthy. She also hopes the protest taught her daughters to speak up when they feel passionately about something.

Yolanda Stephen, the Director of Public Relations for TCSS, said the school system wants to ensure the safety of all 12,200 students in the district. That was one of the forefront thoughts when reinstating the mask mandate.

“It’s good that we have public comments and we were able to hear from parents who had concerns. We’ve had parents that email in and staff that emailed in as well about their concerns for or against the issue. We know it’s a hot topic and that’s why we brought everyone together and the board was able to make that decision at the very start of the board meeting,” said Stephen.

She said the decision is open-ended and the board plans to revisit it when data shows that masks may not be needed anymore. Parents who do not want their children to be masked also have the option of virtual school. Stephen also said that TCSS is trying to avoid shutting down at all this upcoming school year.

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