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 in school, even as COVID-19 cases 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 current school district policy is that masks are required 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 supply any justification for why the student won’t be wearing a mask indoors. “The blanket mask mandate opt-out… is both irresponsible and detrimental to the students actively protecting their own health and the well-being of other students and staff,” says the complaint, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost.
In the first three weeks since school started Aug. 9, there have been more than 200 reported cases of COVID-19 among students and dozens more among staff across the district — with lawsuits mounting week over week. The school district’s superintendent and board 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 schools districts reportedly have a mask-optional policy.