Picayune School District asked by parent to drop mask mandate

Published 1:50 pm Saturday, November 13, 2021

\With Picayune School District being the last remaining district in Pearl River County to mandate mask use for students and staff, a concerned parent asked the Board of Trustees to consider dropping the mandate as soon as possible.

Ashley Alford, a parent of students attending the district, pleaded with the Board to drop the mask mandates because she sees them as a form of child abuse.

She said while students are required to wear masks, at times teachers do not wear masks while in class and children who leave their masks at home are being written up. Alford said that last part is egregious since the poverty level in this area is high enough to warrant free meals for all students, meaning there are families who are unable to afford masks. That fact also leads to children having to reuse masks that may be dirty, leading to their exposure to harmful bacteria.

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Alford added that she made a visit to the central office about two weeks ago and noticed there were people in the office without masks.

She suspects that the district is not changing the policy out of fear of losing grant funds. She did not provide evidence of that accusation.

Additionally, Poplarville School District, Pearl River County School District and the Hancock County School District have all dropped mandatory mask use from their policies, Alford said.

She also points to the unknown mental and physical effects mask use will have on young people.

Before Alford shared her thoughts with the Board, Superintendent Dean Shaw said that the Board has already discussed the mask use policy and does not plan to take action on it until Jan. 21, 2022, but may do so sooner.

No action was taken on the matter during Tuesday’s meeting.