The district leadership made the decision amid a standing order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring masks on school buses. Much of the CDC’s guidance is not binding. The agency leaves it to states to decide whether to implement their own orders based on its scientists’ recommendations.
However, the CDC’s public transportation masking order, issued in January 2021, is enforced by federal authorities.
“Passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, regardless of vaccination status, subject to the exclusions and exemptions in CDC’s Order,” the agency’s website says. The site also says the agency will exercise “enforcement discretion,” noting certain exemptions, such as on “conveyances” with outdoor areas and for people with certain disabilities.
The media office for the CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about what could happen to schools that do not follow the order. The Georgia Department of Public Health has no jurisdiction to enforce it, a spokeswoman said. The department hasn’t told schools not to follow the federal order, she said.
A spokeswoman for the Buford schools said the district was following several other systems in the region, including Forsyth County. A spokeswoman for Forsyth County Schools confirmed that masks are not required on district buses.
Buford is an independent city system in Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett County Public Schools, the state’s largest district, has mandated masks since the start of the school year. Masks are required in buildings when COVID-19 transmission is “high” or “substantial.”
“Masks are required on buses in compliance with federal mandates,” Sloan Roach, the district’s spokeswoman, said in an email.