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Metro Atlanta's largest school district making adjustments to mask policy for upcoming semester

Here are the changes to expect in the spring 2022 semester

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Public Schools is making adjustments to its mask policy for the upcoming semester. 

As of Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, GCPS will implement the following mask policies based on community transmission, which is determined by Georgia's Department of Public Health:

  • Masks will be required in all GCPS facilities when community transmission is considered "substantial" or "high."
  • After community transmission has been maintained at the "moderate" level for two back-to-back weeks, GCPS will transition to strongly recommending masks in all of its facilities. GCPS further explained that if Gwinnett County has been maintaining a "moderate" range for two weeks before the start of the next semester, students and staff will return to the classroom with masks being strongly recommended. 
  • GCPS said its mask mandate on buses will remain in compliance with federal mandates.

On Monday, Jan. 3, GCPS said it will alert the status of community transmission via SchoolMessenger and post the updated mask guidance for students and staff returning to class on the district's website

GCPS said it's also continuing its COVID mitigation strategies. Families are encouraged to monitor conditions at their student's school using the GCPS COVID dashboard.

Additionally, GCPS said it will continue to follow Georgia's DPH guidance regarding isolation and probable COVID cases. It will also continue to quarantine those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID. 

For students: 

  • During times when masks are not required, students identified as close contacts will be required to quarantine, unless they have been fully vaccinated or have had COVID within the last 90 days. When students are in quarantine, they will be required to learn virtually through eClass or through materials provided by their teachers. 
  •  During times when masks are required, quarantine protocols will follow the same guidelines currently in place. If both students are wearing masks, students will not have to quarantine. 

For staff: 

  • Staff who are within 6-feet of a positive COVID case for at least 15 minutes, with or without a masks, must quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated or have had COVID within the last 90 days. 

The school district said it has seen progress in COVID conditions within its schools as more students ages 5 and older have become eligible for the vaccine

“While I believe our GCPS mask requirement has helped us and our community to mitigate the spread of COVID, conditions have changed and we are at a point where we can and should revisit mask guidance," Superintendent Calvin J. Watts explained. “Experience over the last 20 months has taught us how quickly things can change. This plan provides the flexibility for our schools to safely manage that change. Working together, we will navigate the COVID-19 situation through the spring, ensuring we address the needs of students and staff.”