A School District in Georgia Says Requiring Masks Is Impractical. But It Already Enforces a Lengthy Dress Code.

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As students in some states are starting to trickle back into schools, those very institutes of learning have become the latest battleground for the Great Mask Debate. (I use the term “debate” loosely, and sarcastically.) On Thursday, the debate hit the pages of the New York Times, by way of a high school in the Atlanta suburbs. The Times recirculated several viral photos of mostly white teenagers crammed into the hallways of North Paulding High School, creating a modern Where’s Waldo, but for face coverings.

The school district’s superintendent told the Times that they encouraged students and staff to wear masks, but they wouldn’t require them.

“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” the superintendent wrote to the Times.

Unfortunately for Paulding County School District students, there are a number of other clothing items that can be mandated. 

According to the district’s publicly available student handbook, skirts must be no more than “3 [inches] from the top of the kneecap as measured by a ruler or the length of a 3 x 5 index card” and shorts must be “5 [inches] from the top of kneecap as measured by a ruler or the width of a 3 x 5 index card.” Shirts must be free of “writing, pictures, or graphics that unreasonably attract the attention of other students or cause disruption.” And that’s just a sample of what is allowed; the list of prohibitions is even longer:

So the schools in Paulding County, Georgia, can ban hats, but not mandate masks. Iiiiiinteresting.

Some of the lower schools in the district have their own, even stricter dress codes. One of the middle schools in the district has a 28-slide powerpoint presentation about the dress code, with three full slides dedicated just to leggings. 

Another middle school in the district prohibits “pants that touch the ground… wide legged pants, skin-tight pants [and] form-fitting clothing,” as well as jewelry that is studded or pointy. 

But a mask requirement is just impractical. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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