Group of parents gather outside Douglas County schools to protest mask policy

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — A group of parents held a protest Wednesday morning after a local school district issued a mask mandate.

During a board of education meeting this week, Douglas County Schools voted to make masks required in schools and on buses for all students, staff and visitors. Wednesday marks the district’s first day of school.

Parents who organized the peaceful protest stood outside the district headquarters from 7 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

In a letter sent to parents, Superintendent Trent North said that Douglas County is now in high-transmission status. North also said the county’s two-week case rate and two-week positivity rate exceed the Georgia rate and the rates of all surrounding counties.

According to the letter, only 35% of Douglas County residents are fully vaccinated.

“From the many emails and calls I have received, I understand that we have parents who want a mask mandate and those who do not. I understand both sides of the issue. Please know that while we always value parental input, COVID protocols are based on the data and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Our goal is to keep our students as safe as possible. As the COVID numbers decrease and the vaccination rates increase in our community, we will consider making masks optional again,” North wrote.

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Douglas County isn’t the only school district that will require masks to start the school year. Atlanta Public Schools, Carrollton City Schools, City of Decatur, Clarke County, Clayton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County and Rockdale County are also requiring them,

A group of parents gathered to protest Gwinnett County Schools mask policy last week. Parents held signs protesting the district’s decision to make masks mandatory when school resumes on August 4.

Some parents said that they just want a choice.

“There are so many reasons why we shouldn’t be mandating masks for children,” Emily Fields, a mother of five, said. “It’s not just the masks. It’s the principle behind wearing the mask, honestly.”

Other parents were pleased with the decision to mandate masks.

“It makes it feel a little more comfortable because it’s not only going to be a class of 30 kids where 10 are wearing masks,” parent Ashley Suter said. “All of them will be wearing masks.”