Education association calls for masks in schools, governor says he has no intention of requiring them

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 11:18 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Increasing cases of COVID-19 brought on by the Delta variant prompted the Mississippi Association of Educators’ (MAE) President Erica Jones to send a letter to the governor Monday, requesting that he reconsider his stance on masks in schools.

Just one day after, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance, recommending teachers, staff, students, and visitors mask up inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

“Schools will be going back into the classrooms. We have many students that are already back at school at this point,” Jones said. “Our cases are continuing to rise, so the mask mandate is something that we are very hopeful that the governor will reconsider.”

Despite the CDC’s new guidance, the governor’s office told WLBT in a statement Tuesday that “Governor Reeves has no intention of requiring students and staff to wear masks when they’re in school this fall.”

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a meeting with MAE Monday that one of the biggest challenges, as we head into the school year, is that everyone is tired of the pandemic.

“Everybody’s tired of masks, everybody’s tired of not being able to do what they want to, and that’s understandable,” Dr. Dobbs said. “I’m all in there with you, but we must understand there are consequences for not acknowledging the real risks.”

Jones said she’s more focused on requiring masks versus vaccinations because asking teachers to police their kid’s vaccine status would further complicate their already difficult job.

“It’s one less thing that thing that our teachers will have to focus on, and they can focus more on teaching in the classroom,” Jones said.

A mother of two and a second-grade teacher, she said she fears no mask mandate will mean more time spent quarantining for her students and less time in the classroom as a result.

“Our students learn best when they’re under educators and learning with their peers.”

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