Coronavirus, Education

‘It’s So Political, It’s So Emotional, And It’s So Tiring’: Marietta Superintendent Talks Mask Mandate, Parent Reactions

A pro-mask demonstrator, right, speaks with a non-mask demonstrator, left at the Cobb County School Board Headquarters during a pro mask wearing protest, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Marietta, Ga. Many school districts nationwide have seen parents protesting for and against masks.
A pro-mask demonstrator, right, speaks with a non-mask demonstrator, left at the Cobb County School Board Headquarters during a pro mask wearing protest, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Marietta, Ga. Many school districts nationwide have seen parents protesting for and against masks.
Credit Mike Stewart / AP Photo

School districts across Georgia continue to deal with outbreaks of COVID-19 cases among students and staff. In the absence of statewide guidelines, it’s up to districts to make decisions about how best to keep schools safe.

The Superintendent of Marietta City Schools, Grant Rivera, sat down on WABE’s “All Things Considered” to talk about the district backtracking from a mask optional policy, to requiring them.

The system now requires masks for nearly 9,000 students, 1,200 employees and anyone visiting district buildings, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Rivera told WABE that parents and other education stakeholders in the district have reacted in very polarizing ways – and it’s exhausting.

“It’s so complex, it’s so political, it’s so emotional, and it’s so tiring, quite candidly,” Rivera told Moffatt.

Rivera said that protocols change, and cited alarming COVID-19 cases that are overwhelming hospitals and fueled by the Delta variant.

“The reality is, Delta wasn’t here six to eight months ago,” Rivera said.

“Who am I as a superintendent, and a former special education teacher, to say that I know more than 70,000 pediatricians with the American Academy of Pediatrics?”

Meanwhile, Cobb County School District Superintendent Chris Ragsdale has said that face masks will be optional, but “strongly encouraged.”

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report. 
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