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Fulton County Schools to make masks optional 30 days after children aged 5+ become vaccine eligible

It's not yet clear when federal authorities will approve vaccine authorization for younger children.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County Schools plans to make masks optional once the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out to younger children, according to recommendations made by Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney.

A slide presented in a Thursday night Fulton County Schools Board meeting by the superintendent lays out how masks will become optional 30 days after vaccine eligibility is expanded to children aged 5-11.

Federal authorities have been preparing for vaccine authorization of that age group. It's expected to be made within the coming weeks, though it is still unclear exactly when.

RELATED: 10-year-old girl anxiously awaits vaccine approval

The slide states: "30 days following the expansion of vaccine eligibility for children 5 and older masks will become optional for students, staff and visitors."

It also notes that the superintendent may waive masking policies for individual schools if their case rate drops below 1% of enrollment. That policy will take effect Nov. 1.

A separate slide states the district "remains committed to mask optional and is committed to utilizing local data to inform decisions."

It states COVID-19 cases in the district "appears to have peaked and has been trending downward since early September," and that an easing of quarantine protocols "has not resulted in a measurable increase in school based COVID-19 cases."

The move follows a similar one last week by Marietta City Schools to make masks optional. 

Among the larger metro Atlanta school districts, only Cobb County has kept masks optional since the beginning of the school year. Gwinnett, DeKalb and Atlanta Public Schools have had mask mandates in place.