COVID-19 cases have decreased in Columbia County schools in recent weeks.
“We’re pleased to announce that we’re seeing a decline in our numbers since we moved to the face covering requirement,” said Steven Flynt, Columbia County School Board superintendent. “For the past two weeks, we have reduced our positive cases by approximately 200 students and staff each week, and that’s very notable.”
Board members Kristi Baker and Judy Teasley asked Flynt about the progress of the COVID data, and Flynt explained that his administration examines the data daily.
“The reason we’re watching it so closely every day is because as soon as it is possible, we’re going to resume to what we remember as normal when no one was wearing masks, and we were actually doing school as we used to in the ‘old days,'” said Teasley.
The board announced the mask requirement for all staff and students, regardless of immunization status, at the Aug. 24 meeting.
During the public participation portion of the meeting, 10 people came to address the board, most of them to express grievances regarding the school board’s recent face covering mandate.
Appling resident Laura Ann Shipp was the first to approach the board and speak against the recent mandate. In her presentation, she mentioned her second grade daughter.
“I am here on behalf not only of her but for all the children that have had to undergo psychological damage as they have been forced to wear these immune-suppressing, emotion-stealing and germ-carrying devices the last year and a half,” said Shipp. “Mandatory masks carry germs, are ineffectual at preventing the spread and cause physical and emotional distress.”
Kevin Kilburn spoke in favor of the board’s current COVID measures and to denounced perceived cultural “anti-intellectualism” stifling attempts to alleviate the pandemic’s effect on students and school staff.
“No one has the right to put our children at risk, I don’t care who they are,” said Kilburn. “Our community has to work together to ensure the willfully ignorant do not harm our children, whether through their actions or their inactions.”