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Athens City Schools require masks for the start of the school year

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:29 PM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - When Athens City students return to school on Wednesday, they will be required to wear a mask.

As COVID cases rise once again, school leaders with the Athens City School district proposed masks be worn in the building. It was approved unanimously.

Several parents who attended Monday night’s board meeting voiced just how unhappy they are with the decision.

“The next thing that is going to change is we are going to start voting y’all in and you’re not going to be appointed!” yelled one parent walking out of the meeting.

Parents on both sides of the issue spoke before the vote. Those against masking received standing ovations from the crowd. Those for masks were heckled by the crowd.

Mother of 3 Laura Leigh Prater, said before the meeting if masks were mandated she would be taking her children out of the school system.

“I sent a kindergartener to school last year with masks. This is all she knows. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I will not do it again,” says Prater.

Parents argue the vast majority of children are not dying from COVID, so why mask?

Dr. Matt Hanserd with Athens Limestone Hospital says it’s not about coming to school in a mask, it’s about the return home.

“If your child gets it at school and brings it home to” and you are unvaccinated and you come see me in the hospital and you pass away, are you important to your child?”

wDr. Ross with Athens Limestone Hospital also addressed the crowd.

“On Friday, three days ago there were 8 people in our hospital here in Athens with 1 in the ICU. Today when I left work there were 15 with 3 in the ICU,” says Ross.

Parents are upset this message is coming just two days before the start of school.

“I was robbed of a whole year and you’re wanting to take away another? We have been in contact with y’all for months because I was going to take my child elsewhere,” says another mother.

Masks must be worn while inside school buildings by employees, students, and visitors over the age of two. Superintendent Beth Patton made the proposal to the Athens City School Board at Monday night’s meeting.

The first day of school for the Athens City School district is Wednesday, August 11th.

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