Harris County, Ga. (WRBL) – Harris County went from no mask requirement to requiring masks for faculty days before the start of the school year, but effective Monday Aug. 16 the school district changed the mask requirement to include all students.
The change was announced Friday August 13th as Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Shelia Baker said the District saw more case than even their highest point last January.
“When we started school this year our numbers started increasing and as of Friday which was August the 13th we had 51 positive cases between students and staff and we had 409 close contact quarantined people students and staff so together we had about 460 people that were not either at school or not at work because of either being COVID positive or being quarantined because they were close contact.”
At their highest point last year Baker says the school had 47 positive cases and 267 close contact.
The new requirement also helps reduce those who will have to quarantine because if a student comes in contact with someone COVID positive but they are three or more feet away and wearing a masking they will not have to quarantine.
The requirement was met with pushback from parents in the district who are against the changes. Discussion styled events against the mask requirement were held on the Hamilton Square following the announcement.
Michael Waddell is one of these parents. In his own words he’s not for or against masks he is mostly concerned about how wearing masks in school will psychologically impact children.
“For me I just don’t want the experiment to be on our kids and continue to wear this mask,” said Waddell. “I mean how long and when does it stop. I mean obviously we realize COVIDs probably going to be around a long time.”
Other issues Waddell has with mask requirements is a lack of consistency. He said it does not make sense to him to require masks at school when kids will just be taking them off once their home and be exposed to family members and friends.
Despite concerns and protest from parents the district says the new requirement will help keep kids safe and in school.
However Waddell says the main issue most parents have with the requirement is not having a choice when it comes to their children having to wear a mask.
“I think everybody needs to look at all the options, all the situation and make their own decisions,” said Waddell. “And I think it really comes a down to this, I think people overall want to make their own decision even if it does affect other people because there’s no way individually we can make a decision where it don’t affect other people whether it’s in our family or the outside public but in America we at least deserve that.”
Baker emphasizes the decision was made based on the increase of cases, recommendations from health officials and medical guidance and in order to continue in-person learning.