ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools has decided they will implement a universal mask policy for the fall semester.
The school district made the announcement in a letter to parents on Thursday morning.
The mask policy will be in effect for all students, staff and teachers in all schools and buildings. The APS school year will start August 5. The policy contrasts the Center for Disease Control guidance which says anyone fully vaccinated can go mask-less when inside schools.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Channel 2′s complete guide for back to school 2021 in north Georgia]
Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach spoke to Jennifer Rogers Givens who’s part of a parents group called “We Demand Safety”. Givens has four APS students ranging from kindergarten to a senior in high school. She says she applauds the decision.
“I think that mitigation and mask wearing is going to help reduce the community spread,” Givens said. “I had already told my children no matter what the decision is if you’re back in school you will be wearing a mask.”
Other parents, particularly those with middle and high school students old enough to be fully vaccinated are against masking everyone.
Gelbach spoke to Steve Sharabura who’s son Eric is a high school junior and is worried about the negative perception from his child’s peers.
“There is a negative aspect to the dehumanization of masks and risk for that age is not very sufficient,” Steve Shabura said. “My kids are vaccinated anyway.”
Eric says he’ll do whatever the school needs him to do.
“I’d rather not, but if we have to, I’ll do it,” Eric Shabura said.
Givens says even for those with the vaccine, wearing the masks should help.
“Even if you are vaccinated, doesn’t mean you cannot be a carrier, doesn’t mean you don’t have COVID,” Givens said. “It just means you probably won’t get as sick.”
She believes strongly that having masks is a move that would keep everyone safe.
“At the end of the day, having everyone masked in the building ensures safety to all,” Givens said.
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APS’s announcement Thursday morning mentions that only 18% of those students 12 and older are now fully vaccinated. They also cite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all students and staff should wear a mask in school regardless of their vaccination status.
Gelbach says he discovered APS conducted a survey which showed only 58% of their employees are fully vaccinated. That stands in contrast to the Fulton County Health Department information that he says shows closer to 70% of teachers and staff are vaccinated.
Atlanta Public Schools made a list of requirements to being the 2021 school year
- Masks will be required during the school day and indoor after-school activities.
- Students and staff are required to wear masks in locker rooms, weight rooms, traveling to/from sporting events, meetings, and other related indoor settings.
- Clear masks will be provided and used for serving students in special populations. Exceptions should be made for persons who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask.
- Masks are optional for outdoor activities, including recess, P.E. class and marching band.
- Students and staff are not required to wear masks for outdoor athletics such as football, baseball, cross country, track, etc.
APS also cited the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for everyone to wear masks.
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