OUR VIEW: Mask or no mask? Parents need to consider all the facts

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, October 13, 2021

In today’s paper, you can read about the Troup County School System’s decision to change its policy on masks.

For anyone who doesn’t know, TCSS decided to get rid of its mask mandate due to the low COVID-19 numbers the school system is currently experiencing.

First, we’ll say that it’s obviously great news that TCSS is seeing COVID numbers so low. There were only 14 students who had a positive case of the virus as of Monday night, which is very low considering TCSS has around 12,000 students.

We also applaud the school system for doing exactly what it said it would do.

When the board and Superintendent Brian Shumate announced together that they were going to have a mask mandate at the start of the year (along with a split vote from the board), they were in agreement to review the numbers when they changed.

And that’s exactly what they did.

But we also think two things are important for parents to note.

One is that the masks could go back on quickly. Shumate decided on a 1% threshold for masks to go back on, meaning when 1% of a school’s student body gets COVID-19, masks are required again.

Every school has a different number depending on its number of students.

Then, the number of cases has to fall to half of 1 percent for the masks to come back off again.

We think that’s a good way to handle it, and it also still errs on the side of safety.

Secondly, we think it’s still a good idea for students to wear masks.

We know most students and parents hate them, understandably, but TCSS is not changing its quarantine policy.

That means if your student is unvaccinated and is around someone with COVID-19, they must quarantine, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.

If a student is wearing a mask and is around someone with COVID-19, they do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.

We won’t know until we try, but it’s logical that the number of quarantined students is likely to increase as the masks come off.

So, yes, your student can go to school Monday without a mask on, but it could mean that they might be quarantining down the road if around somene with COVID-19. Masks are also still required on buses.

We encourage families to talk this over and figure out what’s best for their students.