TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - Students and staff in the Tupelo Public School District will once again put on their masks for the start of the new school year.
The school board made the decision this afternoon after meeting with staff from the North Mississippi Medical Center.
People had mixed opinion's about the board's decision to enforce a mask mandate today.
“Unfortunately, the school board is not tailoring their policy to be one that is for optimization for each child’s individual health and well being," said Melanie Riley.
Riley said she disagrees with the new TPSD mandate. She attended today’s board meeting, but members took no public comments or questions.
Riley shared her concerns with WTVA after the meeting.
“I believe that parents should have a choice, if we’re talking about public health, public health isn't about one issue which is a virus," said Riley. "Public health is also about mental emotional health, respiratory health of all individuals.”
Unlike Riley, Lela Green said she was relieved to hear that her grandchild and classmates will have to wear a mask in the classroom. She said her grandchild is too young to be vaccinated, so she thinks this is the safest way for her to learn.
“My grandchild is only nine, so she can not get vaccinated," said Green. "So this is the only safety measure that we can take at this time... so yeah, I’m all for it.”
When Dr. Malinda Prewitt with the NMMC addressed the board today, she said the Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading quickly among children, and among adults aged 30 to 50. That's a common age group of teachers and other staff in the district.
The board approved the mask mandate shortly after Prewitt’s presentation.
Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou said the district is already dealing with cases among the band, softball team and some teachers.
“We start getting kids together for the first time in extracurricular activities for the first time and boom we start getting cases," said Picou. "The number of teachers that are already positive leads me to believe that everything I hear, this COVID strand, this variant, could be a lot more... hopefully not, but could be worse than we originally thought.”
Vaccinated or not, students and staff are required to wear a mask. The board is expected to meet again in the next couple of weeks to discuss when the district can drop the mandate.