Cook Co. Schools enacts face mask mandate for students

Cook Co. Schools enacts face mask mandate for students

ADEL, Ga. (WALB) - As school districts across South Georgia turn to remote learning due to COVID-19 concerns, one school district had another idea in mind.

The Cook County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to enact a face mask mandate in all schools.

Starting Monday, Jan. 18, students will be expected to wear face coverings to school for the next 14 days.

“I had a choice to make, it was either possibly shut down a school, two schools or the entire district, or let’s try something that we haven’t tried,” said Cook County Superintendent Tim Dixon.

Dixon said the county is experiencing the COVID-19 numbers they were seeing back in August. He said they’ve seen most cases from teachers and staff in the past weeks. Dixon said that it hasn’t been enough to shut down the district but possibly certain schools.

“I’d rather do this than shut two schools down and now we got our community members, our parents struggling, especially for our young kids. Like I mentioned, one of the schools was the primary school. I can’t leave my primary baby at home by themselves and if me and my wife both work, then I have to make arrangements, which in turn cost money and I’m trying not to do that,” said Dixon.

Dixon said their top priority is the safety of students and they understand the toll remote learning can take on parents. The school board hopes this alternative can be the solution.

He said there will be no consequence if the child isn’t wearing a mask but he said he hopes everyone can understand the situation and work together to help the cause.

For parents concerned with health issues like asthma, Dixon said allowances will be made. The same also goes for special needs students.

As of Tuesday, there were nine positive cases in students district-wide and 14 staff.

Dixon said the numbers appear to be slowly dropping.

“Is this going to work? I don’t know, you don’t know, nobody knows, but it’s worth a try to me,” said Dixon.

After the 14 days, the superintendent said they will analyze COVID-19 data and from there, decide what the next step will be depending on those numbers.

First day of school for Cook Middle School.
First day of school for Cook Middle School. (Source: WALB)

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