DeKalb County School District ends mask mandate

The DeKalb County School District is ending its mask mandate after about a year of the requirement. (AJC file photo)

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The DeKalb County School District is ending its mask mandate after about a year of the requirement. (AJC file photo)

The DeKalb County School District is lifting its mask mandate, the district announced, after students and staff have been required to wear them for about a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mask wearing will be “strongly encouraged” indoors and on buses for all staff, students and visitors starting Wednesday.

“DCSD is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff,” a news release from the state’s third-largest school system said. “The district also reserves the right to update this information.”

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The change comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations late last week.

DeKalb County is currently classified as having low levels of COVID-19. Only communities with high levels of COVID-19 are recommended to require masking in K-12 schools, per the new update.

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COVID-19 cases in DeKalb and nearby Fulton and Gwinnett counties are back to levels seen before the omicron variant surge. Deaths remain at elevated rates in DeKalb and Fulton counties, averaging about four to five deaths per day.

Masks have been required in DeKalb schools since early 2021, when staff and students returned to campuses. The requirement was relaxed for one month over the summer, then reinstated.

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The DeKalb County School District will continue to conduct surveillance testing in schools and its central offices, implement mitigation strategies in school and district facilities and report positive COVID-19 cases and exposures on its website.

Atlanta Public Schools, City Schools of Decatur and the Gwinnett County School District also pivoted to optional mask policies after the CDC updated its guidance.