This morning, Atlanta Public Schools leadership indicated that they will continue to require masks and will implement a Universal Mask Wearing protocol in all schools and buildings starting on August 5- the first day of school for students.
In making their decision the district quoted the following data:
- Approximately 18 percent of our eligible students are fully vaccinated (source: Fulton County Board of Health) and approximately 58% of district employees have indicated that they are fully vaccinated or plan to be (source: Atlanta Public Schools survey data).
- Children under 12 years do not have the option of being vaccinated and remain vulnerable to contracting and spreading the disease.
- 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 American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all students and school staff wear masks regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that all unvaccinated people wear a mask. Given our low vaccination rates and increasing community spread, the CDC acknowledges that universal masking would be appropriate.
The district also discussed measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, by offering COVID-19 surveillance testing weekly and offering the COVID-19 vaccines to students and staff during two upcoming opportunities: