As North Georgia school districts return to school, the No. 1 question for many was will schools require masks for students and staff. The plans in many districts have already changed once or twice and are still subject to change as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Channel 2′s complete guide for back to school 2021 in north Georgia]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 27 recommended that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in K-12 schools amid a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, weeks before students returned to schools.
Here is a look at the current policies for north Georgia school districts: (Note: These will be updated if schools change their policy)
Atlanta Public Schools- Atlanta Public Schools will implement a universal mask policy for the fall semester. The mask policy will be in effect for all students, staff and teachers in all schools and buildings. Click here for the exceptions when masks will be optional.
Barrow County Schools - Barrow County transitioned to a temporary system-wide indoor mask requirement on Sept. 1, 2021. This applies to all indoor areas of any BCSS facility and our school buses. Any student with a valid note from a doctor, medical professional, or therapist confirming the student should not wear a mask will be excused from the requirement. Doctors’ notes for mask exemptions must be submitted to your child’s school. It will be reviewed and verified by the district. The child will be required to wear a mask until the note is verified.
Bartow County Schools - Masks will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year.
Buford City Schools - Masking is optional at BCS. Students will be required to wear face coverings on school buses.
Butts County Schools - Butts County School System implemented a temporary mask mandate on Aug. 24 for school buses and inside school building.
Carroll County Schools - Face coverings are optional for students, staff and guests to Carroll County Schools but health officials suggest use of face coverings indoors. Masks will be available upon request.
Carrollton City Schools - Carrollton City Schools updated its COVID-19 protocols July 30, reversing its mask policy decision. Masks will now be required for students and staff in classrooms and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status. Superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus cited a “significant spike” in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and the city being a high transmission area.
Cartersville City Schools - The district recommends students and staff wear face coverings in situations where social distancing cannot be achieved such as arrival to school, in the hallways during class changes, school dismissal and riding the bus.
Chattooga County Schools - Face masks are optional but not required. Masks are recommended where social distance cannot be practiced.
Cherokee County Schools - Staff and students are not required to wear masks in CCSD schools or offices at any time, but can choose to wear them. CCSD will continue to provide disposable masks to individuals who might request them.
Clarke County Schools - Masks will be required indoors for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be required for all students and staff on CCSD buses.
Clayton County Schools - All students and staff will wear masks at all times. Visitors will be allowed to visit schools on the first two days of school. All visitors will be required to wear a mask and practice the district’s other COVID-19 safety guidelines/procedures.
Cobb County Schools - Masks are optional for students and staff in school buildings, on school buses, and at extracurricular activities
Coweta County Schools -- Masks are strongly encouraged in school buildings and required on buses. Temporary mask mandates have been put in place for some schools if they are considered “Tier 3″ level. Tier 3 - added if cases increase typically to 2.0% of student and staff population - requires face masks for at least a two-week period, until cases decline.
City Schools of Decatur - Face masks are now required in all CSD facilities.
DeKalb County Schools - Masks are required in school buildings for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required on school buses.
Douglas County Schools - Masks will be required in buildings and buses for all students, staff, and visitors, effective August 4. Masks must be worn by passengers and drivers on DCSS school buses.
Fayette County Schools - Starting Aug. 24, masks are mandatory for all students and staff. The mandate will be in place until at least Sept. 17. The district announced they will also stop quarantining close contacts.
Floyd County Schools - Masks/face coverings are optional until the 2% threshold is reached for students, employees, and while on any FCS campus. Any school that reaches a threshold of 2% of positive COVID cases in the student population will require faculty, staff and students to wear a facial covering inside the building during the school day. Any school that reaches a threshold of 5% of positive COVID cases in the student population will require the school to be closed for 5 school days.
Forsyth County Schools - Effective Monday, August 23, all students and staff are encouraged to wear a mask, when feasible, while indoors.
Fulton County Schools - All students, teachers and visitors in cities with high-transmission rates will be required to wear masks until the level of spread drops.
Gainesville City Schools - The district has issued a temporary mask mandate. All GCSS students, employees and visitors are required to wear a mask indoors and on the bus as of Aug. 30. The decision will be re-evaluate.
Greene County Schools - Effective on Wednesday, August 11th, wearing masks will be required for all students and staff inside Greene County school buildings and on the school bus. Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status. The mask mandate will not apply to outdoor activities, such as recess and athletic events.
Griffin-Spalding County Schools - Starting Aug. 9, the district is requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings on school campuses and district offices. This change is a necessary effort to ensure that schools can remain open for in-person instruction and learning.
Gwinnett County Schools - As of July 28, 2021, masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors to all Gwinnett County Public Schools’ facilities and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status. This decision takes into account current conditions, the rise in COVID-19 case rates in Gwinnett County, and the ineligibility of children age 12 and younger for the vaccine.
Hall County Schools - Mask mandates will be on a school-by-school basis. As of Sept. 20, there are no schools under a mask mandate. Chestnut Mountain Elementary, Chicopee Woods Elementary, East Hall Middle School, Flowery Branch High School, Johnson High School, Oakwood Elementary School and Spout Sprigs Elementary were previously under a mandate through at least Sept. 10.
Heard County Schools - Masks are optional for students and staff.
Henry County Schools - Henry County Schools announced Aug. 9 that they will require masks for all indoor spaces.
Jackson County Schools - Face coverings are strongly recommended for individuals who have not been vaccinated, including while on the bus. Masks will be available in schools and on buses for those who request them.
Jasper County Schools - As of Sept. 20, all campuses will be considered optional for the wearing of facial coverings for both students and staff. However, the system will continue to require the use of facial coverings on buses until further notice.
Lamar County Schools - Lamar County Schools temporarily paused classes but returned Sept. 7. The district said masks will be “expected” on buses and in common areas.
Marietta City Schools - Marietta City Schools will issue a temporary mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors starting Monday, Aug. 23. School officials said they hope the mandate is temporary, but did not release when the mandate would be lifted. Students and parents can file for a religious exemption.
Morgan County Schools - As of August 10, the district will to temporarily restrict non-essential visitors, limit field trips, encourage students and staff to wear a mask, reduce large group gatherings, and socially distance to the extent possible.
Newton County Schools - Citing a significant spike in student COVID-19 cases, Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey announced that the district would implement a temporary mask mandate effective Monday, August 9. All students and staff will be required to wear masks in school buildings and on school buses.
Oconee County Schools - Staff, students, and visitors are not required, but may choose, to wear masks while on Oconee County Schools (OCS) properties.
Paulding County Schools - Staff and students are not required to wear masks but may do so voluntarily. Masks should not be required in any educational space or activity including school buses, athletics events, or at any scheduled school or school sponsored athletic event or activity that might occur on campus. Masks should comply with the student dress code.
Pickens County Schools - Masks are recommended for all individuals regardless of vaccination status.
Pike County Schools - Masks are recommended but not required for non-vaccinated students and staff.
Polk County Schools - Starting Aug. 18, masks required for unvaccinated staff/strongly encouraged for ALL students and staff.
Putnam County Schools- Students in grades 6th through 12th are required to wear face masks at school when physical distancing is not possible. Grades K through 5th are strongly encouraged to wear face masks at school when physical distancing is not possible. All PCCSS employees are required to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible All students are required to wear face masks while on school buses.
Rockdale County Schools - Rockdale County Schools superintendent says the district will maintain its indoor and bus mask requirements for all staff and students.
Social Circle City Schools - Please encourage your child to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible, stay home when they are sick, and sanitize their hands regularly. We aim to remain open for face-to-face instruction and need your continued support.
Thomaston-Upson County Schools - On Aug. 13, the Board voted unanimously to enact a temporary mask mandate at all Thomaston-Upson schools, effective Wednesday, August 25, through Friday, October 8.
Troup County Schools - Troup County schools has decided to implement a mask requirement for faculty and staff inside buildings and on school buses.
Walton County Schools - Masks will be optional for students, staff and visitors. WCSD will provide disposable masks upon request in schools and on buses.
Whitfield County Schools -- Effective Tuesday, August 24 — In an effort to keep students safe, minimize quarantines and keep schools open, students and staff will be required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
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