US education secretary urges school districts to follow CDC guidance for wearing masks

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — In an exclusive interview, the U.S. education secretary is urging parents to get their kids ages 12 and up vaccinated and hopes school districts around Georgia will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as far as wearing masks.

Secretary Miguel Cardona told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that there’s money in the American Rescue Plan for additional teachers and ventilation issues in school buildings.

Even as Cobb County Schools debates mask wearing, he’s urging districts to follow CDC guidelines.

“This is really about our students’ well-being,” Cardona said.

Cardona is touring the county talking about reopening schools under the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.

Cobb County Schools, like other districts around North Georgia, are debating whether to make mask wearing for vaccinated students mandatory or optional.

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Cardona urges districts to follow what the CDC says.

“With regards to mask, the CDC has been very clear with their guidance since last year and now this year, we’re getting much clearer guidance,” Cardona said.

Cardona told Elliot that his own children are getting vaccinated. He’s urging parents to get their children 12 and over vaccinated, too.

“I’m happy the president prioritized vaccinations, and that’s one of the best strategies to keep our community safe, keep our schools safe in addition to those mitigation strategies,” Cardona said.

Shaun Winters’ children go to an Atlanta private school. He’s ready to ditch the masks.

“I’m hoping in the fall, our kids are able to go back to school without masks on. I do understand that in order to be able to take their masks off, we’ve got to get closer to herd immunity,” Winters said.

Alexandria Rivers is a nurse from Woodstock. She thinks schools ought to require masks even for vaccinated students.

“I think it should play into whether we have masks in school. I guess that I think of some children not vaccinated, so just to be on the precautionary side to wear the masks as well,” Rivers said.

Elliot contacted the Georgia Department of Education for comment on Thursday, but the superintendent was out of town and unable to respond for this story.