Atlanta Public Schools announced Thursday it would require facemasks for students and teachers despite the governor’s orders, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order in late May preventing Georgia public schools from requiring any students, teachers, and staff members to wear masks, according to the report.
Nearly one month before the 2021-2022 school year begins, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) stated it would implement a “Universal Mask Wearing protocol in all schools and buildings.”
MANDATORY MASKS: Atlanta public school students heading back to class next month will be required to wear masks. https://t.co/NqZVwcf7WE
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) July 22, 2021
Under the guidelines, masks will be required for all students and staff members during the school and workday and after-school activities and clubs. Masks will also be required on school buses, in locker rooms, and band and chorus practices, classes, and events, according to the statement.
Masks will be optional in outdoor activities like recess, the cafeteria, outdoor athletics, and outdoor practices. (RELATED: Georgia Governor Kemp Overrides All Local Mask Mandates)
School officials gave a list of reasons why they decided to implement the mask mandate. One of the reasons given is that “children under 12 years do not have the option of being vaccinated and remain vulnerable to contracting and spreading the disease.” Another reason is that the Delta Variant is “now the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the United States and may spread 225% faster than the original virus.”
“Consistent and correct use of mask-wearing has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the statement read.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech launched trials of their C0VID-19 vaccines for children under 12 in March, with results expected in the fall, according to The Guardian.
APS said it would offer COVID-19 vaccines to students and staff during July 31’s Back to School Bash and through on-site vaccinations at middle schools and high schools. Parents will need to sign consent forms before their children are vaccinated.