Gov. Brian Kemp signs executive order preventing public schools from mandating masks

ATLANTA — When students go back to school this summer and fall, they won’t be required to wear masks.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order preventing school districts from implementing mask mandates.

The 22-page order prevents districts from having mask mandates, but it doesn’t prevent parents, students or teachers from wearing one if they want to.

In a statement released shortly after he signed it, Kemp said, “Georgians deserve to fully return to normal. With safe and effective vaccines widely available, and the public well-aware of all COVID-19 mitigation measures, mandates from state and local governments are no longer needed.”

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot went over to the Infinite Energy Arena Friday afternoon where Gwinnett County’s Berkmar High School was holding its graduation.

Parent Tatiana Gavrilesku was there with her family to watch her son graduate. She told Elliot that she’s glad the governor signed the order because she thinks masks make it hard for him to learn.

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“It’s better when you don’t have the mask. You can breathe. You can focus on the things,” Gavrilesku said.

Gwinnett County Schools told Elliot that it plans to follow the governor’s orders even though some critics, like Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, wondered if it was legally enforceable.

Marc Winsinger was at Infinite Energy to watch his daughter Summer graduate. His other daughter is in sixth grade and he wished the district would still require mask wearing.

“I don’t like that idea, you know? Like I said, it’s the public safety of the public, kids and something like that. I don’t think it’s right,” Winsinger said.

The order goes into effect Monday, so it will affect not only classes next fall but summer school classes as well.

The order also eliminated rules for restaurants, bars, conventions, childcare facilities, live performance venues and other organizations.