Athens City Schools school board adopts mask-wearing mandate

Students return to classrooms on Wednesday.

Posted: Aug 9, 2021 7:30 PM
Updated: Aug 10, 2021 3:30 AM

The Athens City School board unanimously approved a mask mandate for students and teachers in the classroom.

However, several parents at tonight's meeting weren't happy with the decision. The majority of people at Monday night's school board meeting said they were against a mask mandate because they believe it should be their choice on whether or not their kids wear a mask.

Athens City Schools

"I sent a kindergartener to school last year with masks. This is all she knows. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, and I won't be fooled again," Laura Leigh Prater said.

She is a mother of three at Athens City Schools. She says she was given a false hope when she was told masks would not be required at orientation last week. She believes it should be up to the parent to decide whether their kids should mask up.

"I do not want to take anybody's right away to wear a mask. This is America! You wear whatever you want to," Prater said.

However, other parents believed the mask mandate is necessary with COVID cases on the rise across North Alabama and in Limestone County.

"If we bring them back to the classroom without masks at the height of this, disaster is inevitable. COVID will spread so rapidly among them that schools will be shut down in a matter of weeks," Dr. Samantha Ross said.

People in the crowd yelled their objections. One physician who spoke asked parents to think of the potential impact their kids could have on their family.

"Are you important to your child? Because if your child gets it in school and brings it to you and you're unvaccinated and you come see me in the hospital and you pass away. Are you important to your child?" Dr. Matt Hanserd said.

He asked parents opposed to the mandate to look at the bigger picture.

"You're right! COVID is not going away. It's about using the measures to help in the short term," Dr. Hanserd said.

However, parents still say it should not be up to the Athens City School board.

"Five people should not be deciding the health from all of our children. You are here to make sure they get an education. I'm the parent. I'm in charge of their health," Prater said.

After the board approved the mandate, Prater told WAAY 31 she hated the decision, but was glad to be able to voice the opinions of some of the parents and teachers in the community

"Their minds were already made up tonight, but I'm grateful I got to say my peace," Prater said.

The mask mandate officially goes into effect Tuesday, but the first day of school is Wednesday.

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