ATLANTA — With COVID numbers surging, Democratic leaders claim Governor Brian Kemp isn't doing enough to keep Georgia kids safe in schools.
The Democratic caucus held a press conference to demand changes be made, saying they ultimately want the governor to close schools and go back to virtual learning, but they want masks to be required if the schools are open.
"Sometimes you've got to force people to do what's right," said State Representative Roger Bruce, South Fulton County. "Plain and simple, we have to close the schools, we have to mandate that masks be worn, we have to mandate the vaccinations just like we do for Polio, for Chicken Pox, for Measles."
Earlier this week, the Department of Public Health indicated that more than half of Georgia outbreaks are in K-12 schools.
Since students have gone back this year, several schools have been forced to switch to virtual, with some pausing learning altogether for days at a time, leading Democrats to call for a centralized virtual learning system.
"These kids can not learn, teachers can not teach in an environment where one week the school is open the next week the school is closed," Bruce added.
Gov. Kemp's office calls the demands "pandemic politics," reaffirming its stance that mask mandates should be left up to individual districts, based on the number of cases they're seeing.
"That's up to the local school district because they're the ones working closest with the students and teachers as to what's best for their community," said Cody Hall, spokesperson for Gov. Kemp.
Kemp's office also pointed to the drawback of having all students switch to virtual learning again.
"There are serious mental and social ills that come with not having kids in the classroom, learning with fellow schoolmates, and getting face-to-face instruction," Hall added.