CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. (Atlanta Now News at 10) — The school mask requirement is back in Clayton County, a clear backpack policy will take effect this fall, and both mandates are drawing mixed reaction.

Marlon Brown, a firefighter, is happy Clayton County Public Schools is once again requiring masks for staff and visitors starting next week. School administration said the mandate is in response to the rise in COVID cases. “I’m definitely all on board with that. I think, one, I’m in public safety, so I’m face-to-face, kind of, with what’s going on with COVID,” he said, adding it will make his preschooler and kindergartener safer when they start school this year.

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The mandate doesn’t apply to students, since a Georgia law makes it optional, so parents who oppose it are asking why it’s required for teachers and not students, while others are fine with having an option. “Being up close and personal with it, I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Brown said.

However, he’s not on board with the clear bookbag policy for students that takes effect for the next school year, and parents are questioning why it doesn’t apply to teachers. The requirement followed the tragic Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers.

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“It’s a ‘do something just to say we did something’ type of approach. It’s low-hanging fruit, in my opinion. There’s been no data that I can find that says it deters weapons being brought on campus,” said Brown, asserting it’s more of a burden to students and parents and no way to enforce it. “I can still hide a weapon in a book, in a t-shirt or you know, items within that backpack that covers up a weapon if that’s my intent. We don’t want to ignore there’s a possibility it could happen, but I feel like our concern and focus needs to be more on the individual problems that we have, which is around bullying, which is around gang violence and things like that,” he said.

Brown is also hoping the county and state will address the teacher shortage and low pay.

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Clayton County school administration was not available for comment.