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
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 current school district policy is that
in school buildings, but parents can “opt out” of making their children wear them without providing any reason. A simple form to opt-out is available online and does not require parents to justify why the student won’t wear a .
In the first three weeks since school started Aug. 9, there have been more than 200 among students and dozens more among staff across the district — with lawsuits 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.
With more than 7,600 students and 900 teachers and staff, the Dalton district is 70% Latinx and 20% white. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinx people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, being about three times as likely to be hospitalized with the virus as and twice as likely to die. The Education 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 CDC’s school guidance recommends universal Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to for all students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. As the spreads, cases have risen dramatically across the country in recent months. Georgia currently sees an average of more than 9,000 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. and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter.