Lawmaker drafts bill that would prohibit schools from requiring face masks

Shoals

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — Muscle Shoals City Schools is the latest in a growing number of north Alabama school systems to begin requiring face coverings for the Fall 2021 semester.

School mask mandates continue to stir controversy among parents and students. In Huntsville, protests erupted over the school board’s decision to require face masks for anyone aged two and older.

That’s what led to District 3 State Representative Andrew Sorrell drafting a bill that would prohibit such mandates in public schools

“I was asked by the Unmask Our Kids group in Huntsville to carry a bill similar to this, and I initially said no, but after thinking about it and after seeing no other legislator step up to do this bill, I felt like I had to act because, to me, this is a fundamental freedom and liberty question,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell said he isn’t pro-mask or anti-mask and added that the decision to require a student to wear one should be left to the parents.

“I’m just trying to be pro-freedom; that’s really what this is about,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell said the reasoning behind enforcing mask mandates in public schools is poor, despite health officials saying that mask use does reduce the spread of the virus.

“I don’t see everyone in school under 12 getting coronavirus; I just don’t see it happening and I don’t think that the masks have been very effective at stopping it,” Sorrell said. “We had masks all last school year so I don’t think that the data is there to back that up.”

Sorrell said the bill is drafted and he will be introducing it in the special session this fall. He’s calling for Governor Kay Ivey to include the bill in the call of the special session because that would allow it to pass with a simple majority.

“If the bill is not included in the call of the special session then it takes a supermajority vote in both chambers in order to pass the bill,” Sorrell explained. “I plan to introduce the bill in special session either way because I said that I would, but I hope the governor will choose to include it in the call.”

Sorrell added that if the bill is passed and a school system refuses to comply, it would receive a cut to its grant funding.

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