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DeKalb County conducting survey on mask wearing; Decatur Schools plans no changes at this time

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DeKalb County conducting survey on mask wearing; Decatur Schools plans no changes at this time

Victoria Duke, 8, wore her bear hunt mask with a mask before joining a social distance Cinco de Mayo parade in Oakhurst May 5. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — With Atlanta Public Schools considering easing up on mask mandates for students, many parents are wondering whether DeKalb County Schools and City Schools of Decatur are considering something similar.

The short answer is no, at least not yet. The COVID-19 pandemic is still a fluid situation and they’re evaluating their options.

The AJC reports that APS is considering making masks optional starting in February, provided there’s a reduced level of community transmission of COVID-19. Mask wearing is currently required for students and staff in Atlanta, DeKalb County and city of Decatur public schools. Starting Feb. 1, APS will begin measuring community transmission levels in Fulton and DeKalb County to determine whether masks should be optional.

DeKalb County Schools recently published a survey about mask wearing in its schools.

A spokesperson for the DeKalb County School District said, “The safety and well-being of our students and staff remain a top priority. The district is currently collecting data from a survey on mask wearing for the second semester from students and staff. DCSD continues to follow the guidance from the CDC and consults with our COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. DCSD will provide an update next week to our community.”

City Schools of Decatur spokesperson Courtney Burnett said the idea of ending mandatory masking has been considered but CSD is sticking with masks for now.

“We have discussed timing for when the district should consider peeling back mitigation layers in our schools with our COVID Advisory Teams,” Burnett said. “Although our numbers are very low, the teams agree that now is not the time to start taking away our mitigations, including masks, that have been so effective in our schools. We will continue to have conversations with our Advisory Teams and School Board to decide our next steps and timing.”

COVID-19 vaccination only recently became available for children age 5 to 11, meaning most students are now eligible to be vaccinated. The CDC has not updated its masking guidance since Nov. 5, which recommends universal masking for all students and staff.

The range of responses by school districts is consistent with what’s going on around the country. NPR recently published a story asking experts’ opinions about when masks can come off and received a range of responses.

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