MASK MANDATE

Scottsboro High School principal Brad Dudley (left), assistant principal Scott Hodges (middle) and band director Jimmy Leek (right) wearing their masks in school Thursday after a mask mandate was passed on Wednesday. The mandate is in effect until Sept. 2, where it will be voted to either extend or end.

During a called board meeting on Wednesday, the Scottsboro City Schools Board of Education decided to reinstate mask mandates in a 3-2 vote. Board members Patrick Woosley, Dr. Gary Speers and board president Patricia Stewart voted yes while board members Lee Benson and Jason Williams voted no.

While four of the members have remained on the same sides for these votes, Speers has often been the deciding vote, voting yes to the first mandate during the Aug. 6 board meeting, no on the Aug. 12 board meeting and yes during Wednesday’s board meeting.

“I just think wearing masks at this time is the best way to go. I look at it this way, if Dr. Fauci can change his mind then we can change ours. We’re trying to do what’s in the best interest of ours school district. It may not be a popular decision, but I just feel that this is what’s needed at this time. Should the need change, then maybe we’ll change our vote or maybe change the way we do business. I’m one of five board members and that was the way I was led to go on this recent vote,” Speers said. “I have been masks, masks, no vote, mask. Why did I change? I wanted to look at the evidence, I wanted to look at the numbers, I want to see what everyone else is seeing. I still want to let the people know that did the survey, that participated in informational sources, board meetings and delegations to know that we’re listening. As a board, we’re listening. We don’t always hear the same tune but we’re listening.”

Speers cited several sources he references about masking, such as from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the Alabama Department of Public Health and UAB. On this page of references also lists an article from Duke Today, with a quote from the article reading “with masking, the schools clearly can safely deliver face-to-face education for children and adults”.

Speers also cites his concern in seeing the rise in pediatric cases.

The mask mandate will be in effect until next Thursday, Sept. 2, where the board will vote on whether or not to extend the mask mandate. Superintendent Amy Childress said that SCS are monitoring the situation constantly and providing daily reports to the school board members.

As of Wednesday, SCS reports that they currently have 39 positive cases and 67 isolations in the school system.

“That’s been a point of discussion, that the board members have wanted to take a look at these on a daily basis and then make that decision based on where we are. I know they’re looking at the numbers of cases, not only here in the city limits of Scottsboro, but also in Jackson county and then I’m sure they’re taking a look at that as well across the state and nationally as well, so I know they’re taking a look at all those facts,” Childress said.

The board will re-evaluate the mask mandate during next Thursday’s board meeting.

“Even though our numbers are low, which is great, they’re still trending upwards, which is not great,” Speers said

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