Madison Parents React to Mask Mandate - TribPapers

Madison Parents React to Mask Mandate

Madison County parents want the right to choose whether their student wears a mask or not.

Madison County Madison County parents are fighting back against the Madison County School Board’s decision to reverse the previous mask-optional decision. At the board’s July 26 meeting, board members voted to make masks optional. Yet on August 11, the board decided to allow the school superintendent to make the decision. 

The same day, Madison County School Superintendant Dr. Will Hoffman issued a press release on the board’s website, making masks mandatory for all students and staff. 

On Saturday, August 14, a group of residents set up a petition drive for mask choice at Bonnie & Clydes Restaurant on the Marshall Bypass to gather signatures. A member of the group said they set up a link to the petition at on Facebook, but Facebook took it down, saying it broke community guidelines. She said the petition got 1,600 signers before it was taken down. The Tribune could not confirm the numbers.

Michele Woodhouse, Republican Party Chairman for the 11th Congressional District, attended the Saturday petition and told the Tribune, “I’m out here fighting with these patriots to give parents the choice that they should have in deciding how they want to send their kids back to school with or without a mask. Parents have had their voices taken away in many of the counties here in the 11th. Congressman Madison Cawthorn is standing with the parents and so am I!” 

Madison County was not the only county to reverse its decision. Transylvania County also reversed its decision—now masks are mandatory. 

In his release, Hoffman said, “Like all educators, as Superintendent of schools, part of my responsibility is to manage risk for our students and staff. The Board has delegated to me the authority to make decisions when the health and safety of our students and staff is at high risk. This is one of those times. One child who is sick or in the hospital is too many.”

Hoffman went on to say, “We are enacting this face-covering requirement due to two key points: 1) COVID cases are rapidly increasing in Madison County and across North Carolina; and 2) Due to the high transmission rates of the Delta Variant, particularly among children, requiring face coverings gives us the greatest chance to keep our students safe and keep our schools open. In our weekly meeting with the Madison County Health Officials, we will revisit the data each Friday and we will make decisions for the following week regarding face coverings based on updated numbers.”

The Tribune emailed Superintendant Hoffman with several questions in regards to the mask mandate, including: 

Why did the board relinquish its power allowing him to make the decision?

What data did he base his decision on for making masks mandatory?

Was any outside pressure put on him or the board to change the policy, say from Raleigh, from the teacher’s union or others?

Are students required to mask while physically working out?

Will masks be required at football games this season?

As of press time, Hoffman did not respond.

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