Bird Dog Politics



Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced last week his office would be supporting legislation to ban mask mandate requirements in Georgia school districts.

In my opinion, Kemp has done a pretty good job navigating Georgia through the minefield the COVID-19 pandemic created, both from a health perspective but also in the unavoidable political landscape that cropped up with the virus as well.

Now, however, Kemp has a primary challenge from fellow Republican and former United States Sen. David Perdue. The entirety of Perdue’s campaign to be the next governor of Georgia seems to be built on the premise that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from President Trump.

Perdue’s hard right stance has forced Kemp to jerk the wheel into the far-right lane himself and thus the announcement for a new law to strike down those evil mask mandates.

The Georgia GOP has long prided itself on the idea of local control for school systems, at least they did until they got tired of local school boards doing things they disagreed with.

Coincidentally, the Burke County Board of Education (BOE) held its regular monthly meeting on the same night as Kemp’s announcement and the discussion of Burke County schools’ mask requirement came up.

Unlike so many of these discussions taking place in the public space these days, I’ll give our local BOE members credit for not letting their debate delve into political nonsense.

While there was disagreement as to how and when the local mask requirement in our schools should be lifted, both sides appeared to have taken their position based on concern for students’ and faculty’s health and well-being. Obviously, there are health concerns to doing away with mask requirements in classrooms, but there are also legitimate questions as to what effects the wearing of masks for almost two full years has had on learning, particularly for younger children as they are taught to speak and read.

I’ll be the first to say, I do not have the answers when it comes to planning on how to deal with the continuing pandemic. I wouldn’t want to be an elected official or medical professional whose job it is to sort through all the data and facts, as well as the opinion and political pressure, to make such decisions.

One of the things I’ll fault the Feds for, both the politicians and the doctors, is for telling us all along we could eradicate this virus and make it disappear. Science was never my forte, but even I can wrap my mind around the fact that a virus is always changing, mutating as it jumps from person to person. That’s why your doctor recommends a flu shot every year to combat whatever prominent strain is expected to make the rounds. In all my years, I’ve never heard any medical or scientific professional suggest we were on the cusp of eradicating the common flu.

I heard it suggested recently that it’s time we switched our mentality to “learning to live with the virus,” and I couldn’t agree more. Total eradication was always a lofty goal. It’s been made that much harder by a segment of the population that believes COVID-19 is a figment of our imagination or that microchips are being implanted in our bodies through vaccinations.

Do you realize that there are some younger children in our schools who have never looked around a classroom at their fellow students and seen all those different faces and the smiles to go along with them because they’ve never been to school without a mask? I’m no doctor but that can’t be healthy either, especially for children just starting out in school.

Again, I don’t have the answer to when and how we move forward, but at some point, life must return to normal, or as close to normal as can be on the other side of this.

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