Atlanta Public Schools, the DeKalb County School District and Fulton County Schools have all released statements assuring they will continue to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Governor Brian Kemp signed a May 28 executive order restricting public schools from mandating masks for students, staff and teachers. Specifically, schools and school districts cannot utilize the renewed public health state of emergency authority to require workers or students to wear a face covering while on school campuses.
Atlanta Public Schools said in a statement that it will continue to follow current CDC guidelines. The CDC’s current guidelines call for “layering” prevention strategies “regardless of the level of community transmission.”
The guidelines for K-12 schools include universal and correct use of masks, physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine.
“Atlanta Public Schools (APS) continues to implement our comprehensive, multi-layered COVID-19 health strategy in our schools and buildings, which includes surveillance testing, temperature checks, the wearing of masks and encouraging student and staff vaccinations,” the school district said in a statement. “We will continue to assess our strategy as health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Fulton County Board of Health evolves.”
Fulton County Schools released a statement May 21 — before Kemp’s executive order — saying masks will be strongly recommended for students, staff and visitors, but not required at Fulton County Schools’ facilities beginning June 1.
“After the CDC’s new guidance was issued to allow vaccinated individuals to go without masks, it has become impractical for the district to differentiate between those who have been vaccinated or not,” the district said in a statement.
The district reported of the 8,600 employees who have completed its survey, 80% have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are pleased to see the increasing number of staff, students and community members who have received the vaccination and the continued data trends indicating COVID numbers are declining in our community,” FCS wrote.
The DeKalb County School District also said it will be reviewing its current COVID-19 guidelines.
“DeKalb County School District’s mask policy is under review,” the district said in a statement. “DCSD will continue to follow recommended guidelines from the CDC. To date, the CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 strategies for the 2020-2021 school year.”
FCS and DCSD are both offering full-time, virtual school options next school year. FCS is launching the Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence this fall, where students grades 3-12 can attend school virtually.
DeKalb’s virtual school, Flex Academy, opened in 2017, but is expanding to offer virtual remote learning as an option for middle and high school students. Middle and high school students will be eligible to enroll in online core and elective classes. The virtual option will be an extension of FLEX academy but connected to each home school.
The Paulding County School District has not yet responded to request for comment on its stance on Kemp’s executive order.