ATLANTA, Ga. (WSAV) — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 514, or the Unmask Georgia Students Act, at the State capitol on Tuesday, just days before the 2022 legislative session wraps up.
The Unmask Georgia Students Act allows parents to decide whether their child should wear a mask at school instead of leaving it up to school districts.
“This will ensure that parents have the final say when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their child. Throughout the last 2 years, Georgia led the nation by standing up for our citizens’ right to choose how to best protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Gov. Kemp.
But groups like the Georgia Association of Educators expressed concern saying teachers may leave the profession with this new law.
“The CDC continues to recommend that in our schools and our classrooms and on our buses that we wear masks to protect each other and ourselves. It is very concerning that we are now going to have any mask requirements that school districts might implement to protect the health and safety of students and educators be rendered less effective,” said Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators.
The governor blamed some districts for ignoring the science and says Georgia’s COVID-19 numbers have improved significantly.
“We know that there are educators who have health conditions that are immunocompromised or they have family members that they are very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 should they become infected,” continued Morgan.
“We led the way on getting our kids back in the classroom because that’s where the data and science have always said they should be,” explained Kemp.
Governor Kemp says students should not be forced to be masked throughout the school day and instead give families that choice. But some lawmakers say that should be up to schools, not parents, to prevent outbreaks and keep students and teachers safe.
Senate Bill 514 would prevent schools and teachers from punishing students academically as a result of the parent’s mask decision.