Parents in a Georgia school district have filed a complaint with the Department of Education over their schools’ policy allowing students to opt out of wearing a mask, even as COVID-19 cases mount across the district. In a complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, a Dalton Public Schools parent who’s also an attorney representing other parents in the district requested an investigation into the Dalton Public Schools’ “mismanagement and dereliction of duties to protect the health of all students.”
“The blanket mask mandate opt-out… is both irresponsible and detrimental to the students actively protecting their health and the well-being of other students and staff,” says the complaint, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost. The currentpolicy is thatwear required in school buildings, but parents can “opt-out” of making their children wear them without giving any reason. A simple form to opt-out is available online and does not require parents to justify why the student won’t be indoors.
In the first three weeks since school started Aug. 9, there have been more than 200 reportedstudents and dozens more among staff across the district — with issues mounting weekly. The of education did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment. “More students and staff will become infected and suffer if action is not taken,” the complaint says. Many Georgia reportedly have a mask-optional policy.
Michael Caneege, a teacher in Wrightsville, Georgia, teaches anatomy online on Aug. 20, a few weeks into the new school year, after his district halted in-person learning in coronavirus infections. With 40% of students in quarantine or isolation, his instruction until at least Sept. 13. With more than 7,600 students and 900 teachers and staff; the Dalton district is 70% Latinx and 20% white. Latinx people have been , being about three times as likely to be hospitalized with the virus as white people and twice as likely to die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TheEducation Department announced Monday that it was investigating five Republican-led states that have barred schools from requiring masks — Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah — saying universal mask bans could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions. The versatile indoor masks for all students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. As the highly contagious spreads, cases have risen dramatically across the country in recent months.
Georgia currently sees an average of more than 9,000cases per day — up from 300 daily points in early July. Meanwhile, Georgia ranks among the bottom six states by vaccination rate, with only 41% of its population . “Please act; please do something now, today, this , and without delay to protect the health of our students,” says the complaint. Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter.