ATLANTA, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp introduced the Unmask Students Act Monday after announcing last week that he would work to pass new legislation about mask mandates in schools.
The proposed policy would give parents the right to opt out of masking their children in Georgia classrooms.
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“We’ve been in this pandemic for well over two years now, going into our third year, and we will continue to move back to more normal operations,” Kemp said. “We’re trusting our parents every day whether to send their kids to school or not.”
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Right now, Georgia school districts have been allowed to make their own determinations about whether or not students are required to wear masks in school. Kemp said that under the Unmask Students Act, school districts would still make their own decisions about overarching mask policies, but parents would be able to allow their children not to wear masks without fear of punishment.
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“We currently have roughly 45 to 55 school systems that have mask mandates in the classroom, so we’re looking forward to the policy debate here in the Capitol about this,” Kemp said.
House minority leader James Beverly said it’s too soon, and the law could cause rates to head back up.
“It’s a political year, I get it. People are tired of wearing masks, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic,” Beverley said.
Beverly also pointed out that there’s a mask mandate in the House of Representatives.
“We are still in a pandemic. We’re here, we have on masks, and it’s a mandate in the chamber,” he said.
Atlanta Public Schools issued a statement:
“Atlanta Public Schools is closely monitoring the work of the Georgia General Assembly. We appreciate state leaders who have provided local school districts the flexibility to keep schools safe by implementing a multi-layered approach to COVID mitigation. We require students to wear masks under the district’s student dress code policy.”
The policy would go into effect upon signing.
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