COVID mask policies: Where metro Atlanta school districts stand

The Fayette County Public Schools' Huddleston Elementary Hounds put a fun twist on their STEM studies. Masks policies vary around metro Atlanta school districts. They were initially required in Fayette County schools but now are optional. (File photo)
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The Fayette County Public Schools' Huddleston Elementary Hounds put a fun twist on their STEM studies. Masks policies vary around metro Atlanta school districts. They were initially required in Fayette County schools but now are optional. (File photo)

Editor’s note: This file has been updated to reflect a change in the Fayette County School District’s policy.

Metro Atlanta school districts remain split on the issue of masks, even with the rise in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant.

Some districts are holding fast to their decisions from the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year to require masks or keep them optional. Others pivoted in the fall semester based on the rate of COVID-19 transmission in their communities.

Most districts still require masks on buses.

Here’s a snapshot of where area districts now stand.

Atlanta Public Schools

Masks have been required in buildings and on buses since the school year began in August.

Starting Feb. 1, officials have proposed making mask rules dependent on community transmission levels. If the level is low or moderate for two weeks, then masks will be optional. If the level is substantial or high, masks will be required.

Buford City Schools

Masks have been optional since August.

Cherokee County School District

Masks have been optional since August.

City Schools of Decatur

Masks have been required since August.

COVID-19 vaccines: Required for staff, unless exempted. Booster shots required by the end of January.

Clayton County School District

Masks have been required since August.

Cobb County School District

Masks have been optional since August. Students who were exposed to COVID at school and return to class in-person must temporarily wear masks indoors.

DeKalb County School District

Masks have been required since August. The policy was recently extended into the second semester.

Douglas County School System

Masks are required in all buildings and buses Jan. 10 through Jan. 21.

Fayette County Public Schools

Masks are required. The district said it will reevaluate the mandate the week of Jan. 24.

Forsyth County Public Schools

Masks have been optional since August.

Fulton County Schools

Masks will be required from Jan. 10 through Jan. 21, according to an announcement made New Year’s Eve.

Masks have been optional in most schools since early November. That’s when the district changed its universal masking policy that had been based on community infection rates. Instead, it required masks to be worn only in schools with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

The district then made masks entirely optional 30 days after children ages 5-11 became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, masks are only required in schools on a case-by-case basis. Masks may be required in certain classes or grade levels for defined periods of time, as recommended by the Fulton County Board of Health.

Masks are required on buses.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Masks have been required since August and must continue to be worn when schools reopen this week.

The district revised its policy in November to allow for masks to become optional in January if transmission rates are low enough. Gwinnett officials announced this week that current rates still exceed that threshold, meaning masks will be mandated in all buildings when the second semester begins.

Gwinnett’s policy allows for masks to become optional once the transmission rate is maintained at moderate or low levels for two consecutive weeks.

Masks will still be required on buses.

Henry County School District

Masks are required in all indoor spaces “when responsible” social distancing isn’t possible

Masks were initially required at the start of the 2021-2022 school year and became optional in mid-October.

Marietta City Schools

Masks have been optional since Oct. 16.

Staff writer Josh Reyes contributed to this report.