The Baldwin County Democratic Party called on Baldwin School Superintendent Eddie Tyler to declare a mandate for masks at all grade levels to begin the year 2021-2022 school year. The Baldwin Democrats say that the recent surge of the COVID-19 cases from the delta variant in Baldwin County and surrounding areas creates a significant and dangerous situation for the unvaccinated, including both unvaccinated students 12 and over as well as every student under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Jason Fisher is the chairman of the Baldwin County Democrats.
“We all want COVID to be gone. But current circumstances dictate that we need to follow CDC guidelines to best protect our kids, particularly those that cannot yet be vaccinated,” said Jason Fisher, chair of the Baldwin County Democrats. “The new delta variant carries a much higher viral load, is far more contagious than last year’s predominant strain, and will inevitably lead to more kids getting seriously ill if we don’t follow the recommendations of local and national health experts.”
Even though Baldwin County is more affluent than most Alabama counties, the county lags behind the rest of the state and the nation in vaccination rate. The rate of 31 percent trails the Alabama average of 34 percent and even further below the national average of 49.1 percent.
The Democrats say that they find it even more troubling that only 5.2 percent of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in Alabama. The Baldwin Democrats claim that this leaves the vast majority of the 31,000 students that attend Baldwin County Public Schools, and their families, at great risk from the virus.
“Parents are telling me that they want and need to be able to send their kids back to school and that they should be able to do that without having to worry about the unchecked spread of COVID through our classrooms,” Fisher said. “The first obligation of our school leaders is to keep our kids as safe as possible. We must not let partisan politics, local or otherwise, dictate the decisions to protect our children.”
Last week, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey resisted calls for new mask mandates.
The resurgence of COVID-19 cases driven by the delta variant is prompting some school districts across the country to re-consider requiring face-masks for this fall. Several big-city districts, including in Chicago, Atlanta and New Orleans, said last week they will require masks when they reopen schools for in-person learning.
The Atlanta Public Schools, where students return on Aug. 5, announced last week that students will be required to wear masks citing a low vaccination rate and the rapid spread of the delta variant. Only 18 percent of Atlanta students are fully vaccinated.
Nationally, about 27 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds, and 39 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds, were fully vaccinated according to the CDC on Thursday.
Children are less likely than adults to suffer severe complications or death from COVID-19. Most children who get COVID-19 have very mild symptoms if they show any symptoms at all.
Less than 1 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have occurred among children under the age of 18.