Cobb health board recommends mask mandate but decision still up to school district

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Parents in one metro Atlanta county and health experts in another are asking for changes on how to protect children from rising COVID-19 cases in Georgia.

The Cobb County Board of Health held an emergency virtual meeting and passed a recommendation for a mask mandate in all Cobb County Schools.

“It was kind of a call to action at this time, to help us to try to bring these numbers down in our county,” Cobb & Douglas Public Health Director Dr. Janet Memark said.

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Memark said during Tuesday’s meeting that Cobb County was seeing 845 cases per 100,000 people, which is considered an extremely high spread.

“It was kind of a call to action at this time, to help us to try to bring these numbers down in our county,” Cobb & Douglas Public Health Director Dr. Janet Memark said.

The Cobb school district currently has a mask optional policy in place.

“Children under 12 years of age have no protection by vaccines, and if masks are not mandatory have no protection in schools against COVID-19,” Cobb County Board of Health Chair Dr. Carol Holtz said.

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Cobb superintendent Chris Ragsdale serves on the board of health but abstained from the vote, saying he needed to read over the recommendations first.

The recommendations included vaccinations, ventilation, testing, quarantining, disinfecting and universal mask wearing.

“There is a cost for having elementary, specifically elementary school aged children may mask mandated during our day,” Ragsdale said. “I’d like to take this this opportunity to point out that we’re doing seven of eight of those.”

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It’s up to the school board to decide whether to adopt the recommendation. Cobb County parent Suzanne Wooley said she is hopeful.

“I would like to see the school board put politics aside and follow the guidance that the medical experts have given them,” she said.

In Spalding County, the district is temporarily moving to virtual learning through at least the end of the week. Two bus drivers and a bus monitor have died from COVID-19 in the past three weeks and 13 staff members are positive now.

At a school board meeting Tuesday, a couple of parents asked for more options to switch students back to virtual learning for longer periods.

“That’s why we have this whole issue of bus drivers getting sick, because there’s so many people,” Brandy Byard said.

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