Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher said the school system is “trending” toward returning to a mask optional policy at some point if the number of COVID-19 cases among students continues to decline and staff members are supportive of the measure.
School administrators at the Board of Education’s Sept. 16 workshop in Black Creek said the number of students and staff members testing positive is going down in the schools, and if it continues masks could again become optional.
“If we’re still trending in a positive manner and staff is supportive, we’ll put out correspondence to our stakeholders saying if this positive trend continues, on such and such a date we will be going back to a mask optional environment,” Brooksher told board members, warning them to prepare for “the emails, because it’s not going to make everybody happy.”
The system began the mask mandate Aug. 19 as the Delta variant led to a spike in COVID-19 cases and at the time Brooksher said in an email to parents the requirement would be re-evaluated at the end of the first nine weeks, which is Oct. 8.
Bryan County Schools mandated masks last school year for students who attended classes in person, as well as requiring them for teachers, administrators and employees. By the spring, a number of parents began protesting the masks, claiming they did more harm than good.
Those protests resumed when the system re-imposed the mask mandate in August, mirroring protests held around the country by those who see them as government overreach or unhealthy for children.
While school officials may revoke the mask mandate, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Trey Robertson said a requirement that students who test positive for COVID-19 be quarantined should remain in place.
Brooksher told board members he expected to wrap up a survey of administrators and teachers by Tuesday, and at one school a preliminary look showed a majority but not all teachers wanted the mandate removed.