ATLANTA — As coronavirus cases begin to rise again, Atlanta Public Schools announced on Thursday that they would require masks for the upcoming school year.
They said masks will be required for all students and staff in all school buildings, on school buses and at indoor athletic events. Masks are not required during recess, physical education or outdoor activities.
This decision has gathered a lot of reaction on social media.
On Facebook, APS parent Ambria Abair wrote "DO NOT let these children wear masks to school next school year. I had the hardest time getting my child into school last year without a mask. We don't wear them due to religious reasons".
Meanwhile, other parents, like Andrea Hill who has a 6-yea- old in an APS school, said masks are important right now while there are so many questions with the Delta variant.
"My saving grace last year was that my kid was safe and my patients didn't die," she said. "I've been very emotional as I've seen the surges hit my practice this week, waiting to see what the school said."
Hill is a pediatrician whose practice treats about 25,000 patients. She said they're seeing up to 50 COVID-19 patients a day.
"The issue with the Delta variant is it's really like a whole new illness and I've been flooded with it again just this week. I saw it starting to increase a couple of weeks ago," she added.
Although she's a pediatrician, with health risk factors, her practice has had to treat many adults whose physicians could not take them in during the pandemic.
"Last year, every day I went to work wondering if that was the day I was going to get the virus that killed me but I knew my daughter was safe from those variants," she said. "I can't do my job, I can't take care of other people's kids if I don't know my kid's safe."
The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidance Monday and one of its top recommendations is that masks should be worn for anyone over the age of two, including those who are fully vaccinated.
The recommendations deviate from those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which updated its recommendations earlier this month to say that vaccinated students and staff don't need to wear masks in school. The CDC also isn't advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible students.
APS officials said, per the Fulton County Board of Health, approximately 18% of eligible students in the district are fully vaccinated. They added that approximately 58% of district employees have indicated that they are fully vaccinated or plan to be.
The DeKalb County and Clayton County school districts have also announced that masks would be required for the upcoming school year.