Students and teachers will be wearing masks once again at the start of new school year in Baldwin County. Students, teachers, staff and anyone visiting the local schools will be required to wear the COVID-19 masks.
There was a bit of chaos at Thursday's school board meeting in Loxley. Once the meeting adjourned, a group of parents carrying signs against the mask mandate wanted to say their piece.
"What we saw with our children is that they couldn’t breathe. You are covering their breathing holes. Both of them," said Savana Lee.
Superintendent Eddie Tyler and the county school board are now making the mask-wearing mandatory on the first day of school, August 11th through September 10th. Tyler has always said COVID-19 is real and it’s still here. His decision was not a knee-jerk reaction, he says. This was a decision based on science and common sense.
"Whether you believe in your government or not, we've worn masks ...some things came down. We are a very low-vaccinated state, which concerns me. I'm not playing politics. I've been vaccinated. But you do what you want to do," said Tyler.
"Given the fact that it’s so easy to transmit and so many of our kids won’t be vaccinated starting the school year, many of them because they are under 12, means that this could spread very easily through our schools," said Dr. Karen Fagan with the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine. Fagan is one of several medical professionals in the area who wrote or conferred with the superintendent.
It's a message Tyler and the school board have been hearing from local doctors.
Earlier Thursday, parents and grandparents enjoying the "dog days" of summer with their kids had mixed views on the mask mandate.
"We may not like to wear masks, even as an adult sometimes I don’t like the way the mask feels, but I know I’m protecting myself and I’m protecting others. And I think it’s the same way for our children. Their health is the main concern," said parent Kim Gregg.
Some fear starting mask mandates, even at school, may lead to other issues.
"I was a small business owner, and it’s a sad day for business owners in my mind. But when it comes to school, if a superintendent has looked at all the data, I would support that superintendent's decision, you know," said grandparent Ron Schuman.
Doctors are now pushing for children to get vaccinated. That is not a requirement for schools. Parents are encouraged to talk to their doctor.