Atlanta Public Schools to make masks optional in schools beginning TuesdayAlison Cundiff, a 7th grade language arts teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools talks with speaker Janna McCrary during the Georgia Coalition for a Safe Return to School ‘Teach-In’ in downtown Atlanta on Saturday, Feb. 20. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Atlanta, GA — Beginning on March 1, Atlanta Public Schools will update its COVID-19 mitigation strategies to make masks optional for all faculty, staff, students and visitors, remove the mandatory testing requirements for students participating in athletics and extracurriculars, and shift to weekly mandatory testings for staff instead of twice-weekly testing.
According to a press release, the decision was based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendations and a combination of other factors, including:
– A significant decrease in COVID-19 community transmission for both Dekalb and Fulton counties, which is expected to continue trending downward;
– A decrease in positive COVID-19 cases among APS students and staff;
– The final installation of air purifiers in all APS classrooms by Monday, February 28;
– Continued COVID-19 Surveillance Testing as an effective mitigation strategy, with the successful roll-out of the APS Test to Stay Program, mandatory twice-weekly testing for staff and for students participating in athletics and extracurricular activities, and optional twice-weekly testing for every student; and
– Ongoing vaccination events in partnership with the Fulton County Board of Health, C.O.R.E., and Viral Solutions.
The district recognizes that some students and staff may prefer to continue wearing a mask while indoors, and APS supports that decision, the press release states. Schools and offices will continue to have masks available for students and staff who may need them.
“As we make this transition, we want to thank all of our students, employees, parents and visitors to our schools and offices for their grace, patience and resilience. They have helped our students, staff, and community stay protected by following the plan of action, even when it was hard or inconvenient,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said. “And you have remained flexible when the plan has been adapted in response to emerging situations and new information.”
Masks will still be required on all school buses per federal law and after students and staff end isolation. According to Georgia Public Health recommendations, those who end isolation after five days are still required to wear a mask for the remainder of the 10 days after they develop symptoms.
Earlier this week, the City Schools of Decatur COVID Advisory Teams discussed the district’s mitigation plans. The team provided information to be considered going forward. Superintendent Maggie Fehrman will review CSD’s COVID mitigation rubric and make several changes to the district’s plans. She will share the changes at the next school board meeting on March 8, Fehrman wrote in her weekly newsletter.
According to a Facebook post, the DeKalb County School District is reviewing the CDC guidance that was released today and will provide an update on the school system’s COVID-19 protocols next week.
Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.