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Kemp Introduces “Unmask Georgia Students Act” to Give Parents the Right to Choose

Governor Brian P. Kemp’s floor leader Senator Clint Dixon (R – Gwinnett) yesterday introduced the “Unmask Georgia Students Act,” empowering parents of public school students with the right to choose whether their child must wear a mask while on school grounds.

“Parents know how best to care for their children, and that includes when it comes masking,” said Governor Kemp. “While some districts continue to ignore the science and force their students to remain masked throughout the school day, the ‘Unmask Georgia Students Act’ ensures parents have the final say. As we enter the third year of facing COVID-19, it is past time for a return to normal and for decisions regarding protection against the virus to be made by individual Georgians and their families – not the government.”

Once enacted, the legislation would ensure that no local board of education, superintendent, or personnel of public and state charter schools could impose any rule requiring students wear a face mask or covering without an opt-out choice for parents. The “Unmask Georgia Students Act” would also prevent schools and educators from penalizing a student, academically or otherwise, as a result of the parent’s decision.

“I’m grateful to be working alongside the governor yet again to fight for the wellbeing of students and to uphold the rights of their parents,” said Senator Dixon. “The ‘Unmask Georgia Students Act’ reaffirms what has always been true — parents are the best decision makers when it comes to the health and education of their children. This legislation ensures that those rights are not infringed on by misguided policies.”

Roughly 45 school districts in Georgia have one or more schools that are still imposing mask mandates on students. At least nine school districts have 10 or more schools still imposing mask mandates.

First Reader Summary for SB 514: A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the O.C.G.A., relating to elementary and secondary education, so as to provide that no local board of education, local school superintendent, or school administrator, teacher, or other school personnel shall make or enforce any rule that requires a student to wear a face mask or face covering while present on school property unless such rule provides that a parent or guardian of such student may elect for his or her child to be exempt from such rule; to provide that a parent or guardian making such election shall not be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child’s health or education status; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

sb514 02142022

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