UPDATED 10:36 a.m.
The Liberty County School System has implemented a mask mandate after briefly discussing the matter during their July 27 morning Board Work Session.
Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry noted the increase in cases within the last week and pointed out that the City of Hinesville and Liberty County have both reinstated mask usage at their facilities. After the Board Work Session, the LCSS issued a press release.
“The safety and well-being of all students and staff remains the key priority of the Liberty County School System as we continue to educate our students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “In recent days we have learned of the Executive Orders that have been approved by the City of Hinesville and Liberty County regarding mask requirements. In addition, the COVID19 rate of transmission has increased dramatically throughout our county, which makes it necessary for the school system to take precautionary steps to protect students and staff.”
The release went on to say the LCSS will require masks for all students and staff at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. The school system will continue to monitor transmission rates and follow guidance from the Georgia Department of Health.
“Fundamentally, we want our students in school for in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. We want to avoid having to shut down schools throughout the course of the year due to the transmission of COVID-19. In order to do that, it is necessary to require masks at this time to stop the spread.” said Dr. Franklin Perry, Superintendent of Schools.
During the Board Work Session Dr. Perry said, “Our goal is to get our students back and keep them safe. We want to do everything we can do to keep them safe. We have to decide whether we are going to mandate masks or not. We are definitely going to do it on the buses, but we have to put something out here pretty quick as to what it is we are going to do.”
Dr. Perry said he understood it is not a popular subject, but, added that, at the very least, wearing masks would allow the children to remain in the classrooms while reducing the spread.
Board member James Johns Sr., said he agreed and added he was fortunate to have survived COVID-19.
“I can tell you it was no joke,” he said. “It’s a tough decision.”
“We are going to start this way and hopefully it will be temporary,’ Dr. Perry said.
The majority of the Board supported the recommendation. Board member Marcus Scott IV said he will support the measure but added he believes masks should be optional.
He also said adding the mask mandate discussion to the agenda, just prior to the meeting, didn’t allow for the public or Board members to be aware or prepared to address the matter.
“I apologize to the Board,” Dr. Perry said. “This was new to us yesterday. I got a call and the City didn’t discuss any of this with us. Then the County. Our plan was to start school without the masks but the science isn’t letting us do that. It happened almost overnight.”
Johns mentioned that the mandate should also include information on sports and extracurricular activities.