Protesters rally outside Cobb County School Board meeting about masks

More than 100 people showed up at Thursday night's Cobb County School Board meeting. They held signs and shouted through megaphones district headquarters to express their opinions about masks. Currently, Cobb County strongly encourages masks but does not mandate them inside schools.

There were large groups on both sides of the issue. At times those who wanted a mask mandate and those who don't want their children to be forced to wear a mask got into heated debates.

SEE ALSO: Kemp signs order freeing businesses from local COVID-19 ordinances

"My kids do not need to be masked, I'm not afraid they're going to be impacted by COVID," said Angie

"We're seeing cases go up amongst our kids and we have a school board that is refusing to follow science and the experts," said Rebekka Golden.

SEE ALSO: Marietta City Schools to mandate masks for students and staff

It's not just the students, there's also a lot of concern for the health and safety of the teachers and staff.

Connie Jackson, the President of the Cobb County Association of Teachers, watched the protesters as she walked into the meeting.

"A lot of them are more worried than last year because now we know how deadly it is," said Jackson.

SEE ALSO: Cobb County issues declaration of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

During the meeting, board members did not discuss COVID-19 safety protocols, but parents did express their opinions during public comment.

"You don't even put COVID on the agenda, you've embodied cowardice and dereliction of duty!" said one man to the board members.

SEE ALSO: Georgia coronavirus surge leads to new local restrictions

The board did not make any changes to their mask policy.  

In a statement, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said "Mandatory masking is not without a cost.  We recognize that there are negative impacts to school-age children properly wearing a mask during the duration of the school day."

SEE ALSO: Believed Gwinnett science teacher dies from COVID-19

Mr. Ragsdale also announced an expansion to online learning programs for the second semester.  Cobb families will be able to apply for expanded openings in the Cobb Online Learning Academy and Elementary Virtual Program that will open in January. Spots in the expanded online programs will be limited and will be awarded via a lottery system. The lottery window will open in October. 

SEE ALSO: As CDC urges pregnant women to get vaccinated, some have questions

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage


Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.