Archdiocese of Atlanta issues mask mandate as students return to classes

Volunteers filled about 300 backpacks with back-to-school supplies for kids served by Alicia's Closet at Mountview Christian Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. (Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Volunteers filled about 300 backpacks with back-to-school supplies for kids served by Alicia's Closet at Mountview Christian Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. (Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Students returning to classrooms this week in the Archdiocese of Atlanta are required to wear masks.

A statement to school families sent by Hal Plummer, the superintendent of schools, said the measure is needed for at least two weeks due to the “dramatic rise” in COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Similar to what is being reported across the nation, our Archdiocesan schools are experiencing a significant rise in positive cases and family exposures,” said the Jan. 2 statement. “More than half of the reported staff cases and more than one-third of the reported students cases for the school have, have occurred during these past two weeks,”

The mandate applies to the archdiocese’s 18 Catholic schools, a spokeswoman said.

ExploreThe latest on how coronavirus is affecting Georgia schools

On Monday, Mayor Andre Dickens extended Atlanta’s mandate requiring people to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including inside private businesses, according to an order obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Six metro Atlanta public school districts switched to virtual classes this week amid the COVID surge. They are Atlanta Public Schools and districts in Clayton, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton and Rockdale Counties.

But the state’s two largest school districts — Gwinnett County Public Schools and Cobb County Schools — are holding to face-to-face instruction this week. Masks are required in Gwinnett schools and are optional but “strongly encouraged” in Cobb’s buildings.

ExploreComplete coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia