Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is now apologizing for appearing maskless in photos alongside elementary school children who were forced to keep their faces covered.
Abrams claimed on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” Tuesday night that she went to Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur to participate in an “African-American Read-In Day” and told the students she would remove her mask so everyone could hear her.
Abrams added that she had meant to put the mask back on immediately after, but claimed that “in the excitement after I finished – because it was so much fun working with those kids – I took a picture, and that was a mistake.”
“Protocols matter, and protecting our kids is the most important thing, and anything that can be perceived as undermining that is a mistake, and I apologize,” Abrams continued.
The former Georgia state lawmaker later added, “my responsibility in that moment was to explain to those kids why I was doing something they weren’t doing and then as soon as possible to put that mask back on.”
Despite Abrams’ insistence that she planned to put her mask back on as soon as possible, photos obtained by Outkick show Abrams to be the only maskless person in several photos with students and staff.
Last month, Decauter reinstated an ordinance requiring individuals to wear masks and protective coverings in public areas or places of business such as restaurants, shops, and banks. Schools are not directly listed in the order and children under the age of 10 are exempt.
The photos of Abrams circulated widely on social media and caused an uproar among Republicans and critics who pointed out Abrams’ past support for mask mandates throughout the pandemic.
Abrams’ campaign initially fired back at her critics in a statement that read: “It is shameful that our opponents are using a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack, and it is pitiful and predictable that our opponents continue to look for opportunities to distract from their failed records when it comes to protecting public health during the pandemic.”
When pressed Tuesday on whether it is time to end mask mandates — as several Democratic-led states have begun to do — Abrams insisted they must remain in place in Georgia.
“COVID hygiene is going to be a point of debate for a very long time and we can only follow the science and follow our circumstances,” Abrams said. “Unfortunately, in Georgia, we’re not at a place where that conversation is ready because we have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.”
She noted that while each governor must evaluate the situation in their own state, “we also have to recognize that we are shifting from pandemic to endemic [and] some states are going to get there faster than others.”
“My responsibility, if I am lucky enough to be the next Governor of Georgia, is to look at the science, to follow the protocols and to set the right example,” Abrams added. “And right now, that example is that we wear masks whenever possible but we recognize that we can’t be hardline about this because situations change and we have different moments where we have to make decisions.
“But in this instance, I would say that as governor of Georgia, my job will be at that time to look at the science, to look at the situation and to make the best decision to protect our kids.”