Kemp unveils bill to let parents decide on masks in school

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 11:35 AM EST
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ATLANTA - Saying people are “beyond frustrated” over what he calls hypocrisy in schools, Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday unveiled legislation that would let parents make the call on whether their kids should wear masks in school.

About 45 school districts in the state have one or more schools requiring face coverings as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19. At least nine of those — including the Richmond County School System — have 10 or more schools with a mask mandate, according to Kemp.

The Unmask Georgia Students Act would require an opt-out for any district that has a mandate. It also would also prevent schools and educators from penalizing a student, academically or otherwise, as a result of their parents’ decision.

Kemp said it’s hypocritical for schools to require kids to wear masks but allow visitors without masks. Kemp said some people apparently think it’s OK to make rules that apply to some people but force others to follow.

“Parents know how best to care for their children, and that includes when it comes masking,” Kemp said. “While some districts continue to ignore the science and force their students to remain masked throughout the school day, the ‘Unmask Georgia Students Act’ ensures parents have the final say.”

The news conference came after the governor, who’s up for re-election, announced plans for the legislation last week.

“As some school systems continue to ignore the science, concerned parents, and the well-being of students, in the coming days my office will be introducing legislation to give parents the final say on masking for their children,” Kemp said on Twitter.

“A small handful of school boards continue to ignore the science and impose mask mandates on our children while leading Democrats refuse to follow the mandates when visiting those same schools,” he tweeted. “Enough is enough.”

Kemp was joined during Monday’s news conference by state Sen. Clint Dixon.

“I’m grateful to be working alongside the governor yet again to fight for the wellbeing of students and to uphold the rights of their parents,” Dixon said.

Bill would boost moms’ Medicaid coverage

ATLANTA - A Georgia bill aimed at reducing the state’s high death rate for new mothers is advancing.

The state Senate last week unanimously approved legislation that would extend Medicaid coverage for low-income moms in Georgia from six months to a year after they give birth.

The bill is now before the state House of Representatives.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget for next year sets aside a little more than $28 million for the expansion.

Georgia has among the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and Black women are disproportionately affected.

Georgia lawmakers had previously extended Medicaid coverage for moms from two months to six months after birth.

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