ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools has become the latest school district to go mask-optional following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated recommendations.
Mask-optional protocol will go into effect for faculty, staff, students and visitors in all APD schools starting March 1, the school district announced on Friday. The school district announced on Monday, Feb. 28, that the mask optional protocol will also extend to school buses. Masks will still be required for all students and staff who leave isolation after five days, those individuals will need to wear masks for the final 10 days after they develop symptoms.
"APS recognizes that some students and staff may prefer to continue wearing a mask indoors, and we support this decision," the school district said in a press release.
The school district issued a series of explanations for the recent change in a press release:
- A significant downtrend in COVID-19 community transmission for both Dekalb and Fulton counties
- A decrease in positive COVID-19 cases among APS students and staff
- The final installation of air purifiers in all APS classrooms effective 2/28/2022;
- Continued optional COVID-19 Surveillance Testing, including the APS Test to Stay Program
- Ongoing vaccination events in partnership with the Fulton County Board of Health, C.O.R.E., and Viral Solutions
APS now joins Gwinnett County Public Schools, which also announced on Friday that it is now strongly recommending that masks be worn within its facilities, rather than mandating that masks be worn. Leaders of the school district will also be reviewing and updating quarantine and isolation protocols.
Both schools updated their protocols in response to new guidelines issued by the CDC on Friday.
The health agency announced that only people living in areas where the risk of COVID-19 is still considered high are recommended to wear masks. More than 70% of the U.S. population now lives in areas where the risk of COVID-19 is considered low or medium.
The City of Atlanta also loosened restrictions on Friday, with Mayor Andre Dickens announcing that the indoor mask mandate has been lifted and that public agencies affiliated with the city may now resume in-person meetings.
For an update on the state of coronavirus in Georgia for Friday, Feb. 25, click here.