Some in Augusta County oppose school mask mandates as COVID-19 cases surge

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 11:41 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:40 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - As COVID-19 cases surge within Augusta County Schools, many people continue to speak out against mask mandates.

About 50 people attended the Augusta County School Board meeting Thursday night. It was heated at times - like when people called board members “cowards” for wearing masks and forcing students to wear them.

Fourteen people spoke out against the mandates, citing their fear of heath issues they believe could be caused by masks. Some quoted scripture, while others blamed politics.

“This is a political scam to see who is going to sit down and shut up,” Riverheads student Joshua Cox said . “There is [sic] three reasons why COVID cases are going up. That’s because it’s flu season, masks don’t work, and upcoming elections.”

“This is not a joke to any of us,” said Rebecca Lotts, who opposes the mandates. “Do you all understand that? You are muzzling our children. We do not appreciate it. I want to work with you. I want to work with every one of you. I believe in Jesus Christ. I hope you’re on the same side.”

Only two people spoke out in favor of masks.

“I’m asking for a choice for a virtual option during this surge. It’s equal or worse than in December, and our healthcare workers are drowning,” said Tara Mahanes.

Administrators say they’re hearing the same from other parents.

More than 300 Augusta County students have tested positive for COVID-19 since school started four weeks ago. Many have since returned to school, but the virus continues to spread.

Virginia Public Schools are required by law to enforce mask mandates, and the State Health Commissioner has made it clear that masks are required to be worn by everyone inside the schools.

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