Masks are again optional for Gwinnett schools employees

Community transmission risk dropped to medium

Gwinnett County Public Schools lifted its mask requirement for staff members Thursday because of a lower risk of community transmission of COVID-19.

The change comes just a few days into the new school year.

ExploreCOVID risk triggers staff mask requirement in Gwinnett schools

Gwinnett’s mask rules are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s transmission measurements. When transmission is high, the district requires staff to wear masks.

On Thursday, the CDC reported the county’s level dropped from high to medium. The district stated on its website that it lifted the mask requirement, but it still “strongly encourages” masks in school buildings.

Staff in Gwinnett schools have been required to wear masks for about a month. About 40 people protested the requirement at July’s school board meeting. Since the new school year started, Clayton County Public Schools has been the only other metro Atlanta district to require staff to wear masks. Clayton’s requirement is still in place.

School districts cannot require students to wear masks due to a bill Gov. Brian Kemp signed in March. The bill allows parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates.

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The CDC announced it relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday. It no longer recommends quarantining after coming into contact with the virus or social distancing, although it still advises mask-wearing in areas of high community transmission.

The agency estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have some level of COVID-19 immunity from vaccines or previously contracting the virus.