A lot of school districts that were going to let parents decide whether their children wear masks in schools are issuing mask mandates. During an interview on The Gallo Show this morning on SuperTalk Mississippi, Mandy Gunasekara told us in some cases, school boards are overriding decisions that had been voted on by parents. A group calling themselves “Mississippians for Mask Choice” has emerged as a result.
“What we’re asking in our letter to the Governor, and laying out, is that there are local entities that are abusing their authority. That is infringing on fundamental liberties of parents to make well-informed decisions on what is best for their kids,” she said.
She believes mask mandates aren’t always justified. “In the county of Lafayette for the preceding 6 weeks there have been zero deaths overall, and there has been an average per ages 5-17–so it’s school aged kids–there has been an average of 3.5 cases.”
The Mississippi Dept. of Health and the CDC are recommending mask-wearing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students while they’re indoors. Governor Tate Reeves said as recently as last week that he has no intention of reinstituting masks mandates.
So how much authority do school districts have and are they overstepping their bounds?
Here’s what the law dictates:
The school boards of all school districts shall have the following powers, authority and duties in addition to all others imposed or granted by law, to wit:
(h) To exclude from the schools students with what appears to be infectious or contagious diseases; provided, however, such student may be allowed to return to school upon presenting a certificate from a public health officer, duly licensed physician or nurse practitioner that the student is free from such disease;
(i) To require those vaccinations specified by the State Health Officer as provided in Section 41-23-37
As the debate rages, the surge in cases due to the Delta variant shows no signs of slowing down.