Students in Pascagoula, Gautier head back to school with masks on

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:22 AM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Students in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District are starting back to school Thursday, and they’re doing so with masks in place.

The district announced last week that masks would be required due to the number of COVID cases rising drastically in Jackson County, so it came as no surprise Wednesday when the PGSD school board made the mandate official.

”I just think it is important that we all understand this is going to be a team effort,” said Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich. “If we are going to beat this virus, it is going to take all of us working together.”

As the trustees met, several open houses were taking place at schools through the district. Students and their parents came to meet the teachers and drop off supplies, most with their masks in place.

”I think it is a good idea that we are wearing the masks to keep everyone else around us safe,” said student Angel Jackson.

While not everyone is a fan of the decision, many parents are happy with the district’s decision.

”I am very proud of all the other parents and the community and our school district for keeping our masks on our kids, trying to make everyone safe,” said mother Desiree Jackson.

For the school board, it was about making sure students can remain in a traditional learning setting.

”Knowing that they will be back here, in person, in front of these teachers and safe as possible around their friends growing as young people, academically and otherwise, that does brings a smile to my face,” said board president Matthew Johnson.

Johnson took to Facebook after the announcement was made last week to reiterate the importance of keeping students and teachers safe as the number of new cases rise, pointing to the data that more children are getting COVID right now than they were this time last year.

I know the announcement from PGSD today has drawn a lot of emotion. There is a lot of frustration from a lot of people....

Posted by Matthew Johnson PGSD School Board Trustee on Thursday, July 29, 2021

Regardless whether anyone supports or disagrees with the mask mandate, most everyone is in agreement that being in the classroom and not virtual is what’s best for students.

”This year, I think from a mental standpoint, these kids need to be in school, to have social skills if nothing else,” said mother Tiffany Sanders. “It’s hard to be home eight hours a day staring at a computer, at the wall. Regardless of what’s going on, we’re going to mask him up, sanitize him down and he’s going to go in there every day, and do the best he can. I am going to support him a hundred percent.”

The mask mandate will require everyone, including teachers and visitors, to mask up when inside school buildings and buses.

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