While it would be interesting to see if we can corral people to the vaccine lines, the truth of the matter is that moving the needle on vaccination rates will not happen overnight (and some individuals will never opt for the vaccine).
There are already existing drives to get people to vaccine lines. There are though no initiatives to call out disparities for health and safety within our K-12 schools, specifically as the delta variant is sending more children to the hospital.
All actions should be taken at this point in order to protect everyone, regardless of age and vaccination status.
The data shows that Lowndes students are currently at a 2.4 times higher risk, which directly correlates to the difference in handling mask policies between the schools (with all other approaches considered equal).
These numbers are only after one full week of school, which should be alarming as the potential for increasing even greater looms around the coming weeks. Pointing out the differences in policies and data brings about a catalyst for change.
We can hope for the best as both sides potentially work it out, but the immediate action recommended directly by Centers for Disease Control guidance is that universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Valdosta City Schools has chosen to pivot and follow the latest CDC updated recommendation but Lowndes County Schools has not.
As a solution, I’ve personally reached out to my LCS Board of Education representative to ask that they request a special called BOE meeting in order to entertain a new motion on masks mandates, as outlined by the aforementioned CDC guidance and irrelevant of personal opinion.
Schools cannot mandate vaccinations.
However, schools can mandate masks.
By the way, where are the school reports for Valwood, Georgia Christian, Highland Christian, and other religion-based private schools? Are they exempt from detailing Valdosta Daily Times news with their updated mask policies and weekly COVID numbers?
DeWayne Johnson is a business owner, investor, keynote speaker and advisor. He has an M.S. in management from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in engineering from Georgia Tech. He is a member of The Valdosta Daily Times editorial board.