Mother calls on Effingham Co. school district to mandate masks in the classroom

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EFFINGHAM CO,. Ga. (WSAV)- An Effingham County mother is calling on the school district to adopt a stricter mask policy This comes after a staff member at the county high school tested positive for COVID-19.

Barbara Brown has two children who attend Effingham County High School (ECHS). On Monday she was notified via email that one of them may have been exposed to the virus.

“I thought it was sent to the whole district,” said Brown. “It did not even say that it was for my ninth grader, it didn’t say which child because I have two in high school, so I had no idea.”

Brown soon discovered it was her asthmatic daughter who’s a freshmen at ECHS. She says 48 hours later she received a phone call from the Health Department and was told her daughter would need to quarantine until August 21st. She was also told her daughter would need to get a COVID-19 test before returning back to school.

“My child right now, is scared,” said Brown.

Brown says she and other parents were already worried about the district’s relaxed masks policy. Her concerns are especially strong because of her daughter’s condition, which makes her more vulnerable to the virus.

“My daughter told me the majority are not wearing masks,” said Brown, “they are not wearing masks, the majority of kids.”

One parent even started a petition calling for stricter enforcement of the mask policy. Brown says since signing it, she’s received a lot of backlash.

“As a mom I do not want to put someone else’s kid in a situation to possibly get this.” said Brown.

WSAV News 3 spoke with the Effingham County school superintendent

He says because certain health conditions exempt people from wearing masks, he decided not to mandate them.

“We need to continue to work hard to encourage students to wear masks you know for the ones that can and you know as we have issues that arise at each school we are going to address them,” said Dr. Yancy Ford.

Ford says opening up county schools was necessary to provide a safe haven for students who may be silently dealing with abuse.

He says parents still have the option for virtual learning but, those who need hands on learning should have the opportunity.

“We had a select group of community members who felt strongly about online learning and then another group that felt strongly about traditional learning so as a district we wanted to give the community options,” said Dr. Ford.

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that in the past four weeks confirmed cases of COVID-19 in children across the country have jumped by 90 percent.

It’s statistics like those that weigh heavy on Brown’s mind.

“We all want our kids to go to school we need to bring it back to normal and it’s not going to happen if things do not change,” said Brown.

Dr. Ford says he is working closely with the department of health as they conduct their contract tracing investigation. He says he is visiting schools daily and would consider adjusting the policy if something changes.

“It’s a partnership and that’s the key message I want to get out to the public, this has be a partnership between the school district and the parents.” said Ford.

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