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Gwinnett County Public Schools delaying start of school year, requiring masks

Classes will now begin on Aug. 12, giving the district additional time to review and adjust its plans.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — When Gwinnett County Public Schools' students and staff return for the new school year, they will be required, along with visitors, to wear face coverings.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education and Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks discussed plans for the 2020-2021 school year in a special-called meeting on Tuesday.

The decision was also made to delay the start of the upcoming school year.

Classes will now begin on Aug. 12, giving the district additional time to review and adjust its plans.They said it will also allow them to meet the students’ needs and to reflect the most updated guidance from public health officials.

Since medical experts recommend the use of face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19, GCPS said they will require employees, students and visitors to school facilities to wear them.

"As social distancing will be a challenge in schools and on school buses, GCPS is asking those who attend and/or work at its schools — as well as those who drive buses and work in other GCPS facilities — to wear a face covering or mask to minimize the spread of illness, and keep students and staff members safe," the news release said.

RELATED: Clock ticking for parents to make decision to send kids back to school or stick with online learning

They also said accommodations will be made for students or employees who cannot wear masks for documented health reasons.

"Ultimately, we made our decisions based on what we believe is in the overall best interest of the district’s students, families and staff. In the weeks to come, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Gwinnett County and, if necessary, will revise our plans as conditions warrant," Willbanks said.

Other actions decided on during the special meeting was to cancel the class of 2020 in-person graduations scheduled for next week. The district held virtual ceremonies in May. They said they noted at that time they would do the in-person commencements if conditions allowed. However, since there's been a recent uptick in cases, the district has decided against it.  

Gwinnett County also plans on increasing its pre-planning time for teachers by adding five days.

GSPS is the largest school district in the state. They announced in recent weeks they would allow parents to decide to choose between in-person or digital instruction for their children for the first semester. The survey allowing the parent of each child to make that decision remains open through July 10, the district said.

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