Georgia school officials will not be allowed to require a student to wear a mask if their parents object under legislation that was passed by the state House of Representatives on Friday.

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The bill, which cleared the Republican-controlled chamber 93-52 along party lines, was introduced on behalf of Governor Brian Kemp, who has fought against mask mandates imposed by local governments and school systems. since the coronavirus pandemic hit Georgia two years ago.

“Parents are the best decision-makers when it comes to the health and education of their children,” said Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, one of Kemp’s House leaders and lead sponsor of the bill. “We have to start getting back to normal. This is the first step to achieve this. »

But House Democrats have argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and now is not the time to ease restrictions on mask-wearing.

“The virus is there. It’s deadly,” said Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta. “People are still getting sick and have to go to hospital.”

The “Georgia Unmasked Student Act” passed the state Senate 32-19 on March 1, also along party lines. He now heads to Kemp’s office for his signature.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.