Cobb health board recommends schools follow CDC guidance on masks

With the high rate of COVID-19 cases in schools, a health board for Cobb County schools is advising the district to adopt the position that children need to wear masks in school.

All board members agreed with the exception of Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale who abstained.

The vote came during a special meeting which was held virtually.

It was announced in a press release last week with the sole intent of discussing COVID-19 guidance in public and private schools in Cobb County.

The advisory panel includes Chairwoman Lisa Cupid, Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, Marietta Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera, and Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin.

Other members not associated with the school district include W. Wyman Pilcher, III, Pete Quinones, Dr. Carol Holtz, and Dr. Paula Greaves.

"Case rates since summer quadrupling in children 5 to 17  in last 5 weeks," said Dr. Carol Holtz, Chair of the Cobb County Board of Health.

The board's position also states that everyone who is eligible should be vaccinated.

"All students over 2 and staff should wear masks in school unless medically or developmental conditions prohibit the use," Dr. Holtz said.

RELATED: Protesters rally outside Cobb County School Board meeting about masks

Superintendent Ragsdale defended his "strongly encouraged" but not mandated mask policy.

"There is a cost for having elementary kids wear masks during the entire school day.  What is happening in our schools is working. We have 110,000 students and more than 18,000 staff and of those 128,000 people, 975 are COVID free," said Ragsdale.

Others warned that the health of the children is at stake.

"One child's death is not worth not having masking in our schools," said Wyman Pilcher with the Cobb Board of Health.

Cobb Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid added that she firmly supports the Board of Health's position.

"Our inaction could be resulting in grave harm to our children in our community," Cupid said.

Marietta City Schools reinstated a district-wide mask mandate last month.

Masks are optional for students in the Cobb County School District.

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