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Hall County school district - with mask requirement in place - says it's ready to welcome students back to school

'It's about the safety of the students the safety of our staff members.'

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — As more school districts get ready to start their fall semesters, they are having to prepare to step into the uncharted territory of what it will look like to have students learn in the classroom during a pandemic.

"Let's be honest, in a high school with 1,200 kids during a class transition - it's going to be impossible to socially distance," said Hall County Schools Communications Director, Stan Lewis. And that's why all their district's students and teachers will be wearing masks when they return to school Aug. 24.

"It's about the safety of the students the safety of our staff members," Lewis said. "We're looking closely at the science and data."

Hall County was considered a hot spot for COVID-19 early on in the pandemic in Georgia. This spring, the county saw cases spike due to outbreaks at poultry plants.

Since the pandemic began, Hall County has had logged 5,947 COVID-19 cases. Ninety-two people have died from the virus.

Because of that, Lewis said they had to mandate masks for the start of the school year, with 75 percent of all students choosing to returning in person.

"Hall County has had its challenges. We've been hit by the virus pretty hard," Lewis admitted. "We feel like masks are appropriate for where we are at this time."

And if a student is caught not wearing one?

"We're going to be polite, we're going to be tactful, we're going to say, 'we're here to learn, but there are parameters we've got to work within'," Lewis said, adding, "if they don't have a mask we're going to do our best to offer them one."

Lewis said he recognizes the challenges of a new school year with new procedures, but said these changes need to happen to keep all of Hall County safe.

"We're not going to sacrifice students safety for convenience," he said.

Lewis added that students will also be wearing masks on the buses. Windows will be lowered, weather permitting, for better air circulation on the buses, as well. 

They will also have their temperatures taken at school.

Hall County also extended teacher planning from one week to three to get all the protocols in place.

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