Gwinnett County Public Schools testifies in lawsuit over mask mandate
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Holly Terei took her 10-year-old daughter out of in-person learning in Gwinnett County Public Schools because she struggled while wearing a mask.
"She started coming to us asking us asking what depression is and that she thinks she has depression," Terei said.
Terei is part of a group of parents suing Gwinnett County Public Schools over its mask mandate.
GCPS' current guidelines expect students and staff to wear masks throughout the building with accommodations for people with medical documentation and certain disabilities. It also outlines expectations for "mask breaks" and the flexibility of students and staff to be relieved from masks during periods throughout the day.
Assistant Superintendent Al Taylor testified the school district's decisions were based on health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale County Health Department.
"I asked Dr. Taylor if politics was a factor at all in the decisions making process on mask requirement," GCPS attorney Jill Young said.
"No, not at all," Taylor said.
The plaintiff's argument centered on whether Gwinnett County Public Schools or the Gwinnett County Board of Education have the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of a child's parent or guardian.
The plaintiff's attorney argued Gov. Brian Kemp's took action to repealed local jurisdictions' authority to enact mask mandates. Kemp allowed the public health state of emergency to expire, but several local jurisdictions enacted mask mandates when case numbers increased in July.
The school district announced the most recent guidance days before the beginning of the 2021 school year after initially saying masks would be optional. Dozens of people gathered outside the Gwinnett County Public Schools headquarters to express their frustration and demand the option to choose.
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