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Georgia School District Set To Reopen in Person, Without Mask Mandate

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A school district in southwest Georgia is set to become one of the first in the country to resume in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Jefferson school district is set to begin in-person classes on Friday as most districts across Georgia have either postponed their start dates or elected to reconvene completely online, The New York Times reported.

The decision has triggered a microcosm of the nationwide debate over schools reopening in recent months.

For some families, what’s most concerning is not that the district is reopening, but that administrators have “strongly encouraged” students to wear masks instead of explicitly mandating them.

Two seniors at Jefferson High School created an online petition calling for a mask mandate which has collected over 600 signatures as of Tuesday, according to The Times.

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In response, a competing petition calling for masks to be optional has garnered over 200 signatures, with some signers leaving comments accusing the debate of being politicized.

Jefferson’s planned reopening comes as some of the largest school districts in the United States, including those in Los Angeles and New York City, recently announced plans to resume classes at least partially online.

President Donald Trump has called for schools to reopen in person, even if it requires a delayed start date, The Times reported. His calls were echoed Thursday by the Center for Disease Control.

While numerous studies have concluded that children are less likely to become ill or die from COVID-19, there has been less conclusive research on how likely they are to transmit the virus to others. Some recent studies have shown that they are less likely to spread the disease.

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Georgia has recorded over 165,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 3,500 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

Jackson County, where Jefferson is located, has suffered only 13 deaths, according to The New York Times.

Donna McMullin, Jefferson’s superintendent, acknowledged the anxiety about resuming in-person classes, and said that masks were not being mandated due to students with medical exemptions and disabilities, The New York Times reported.

Dr. McMullin did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of their original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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