Most Fulton County schools to require masks when school opens

Masks will be required in nearly all schools within Fulton County when classes start Monday.

The exception are schools located in Johns Creek, where COVID-19 case numbers were just low enough to fall under the district’s threshold for requiring masks.

Across the metro area, masks are required in Atlanta, Clayton, DeKalb and Gwinnett school districts, but remain optional in Cobb, though “strongly encouraged.”

Georgia is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases due to the highly contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates, according to health data. Just 40% of Georgians are fully vaccinated, compared to 50% nationwide, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

There are more than 100 schools within Fulton County Schools. Officials there initially said masks would be optional, but this week they revised the rule to require face coverings in schools located in cities with high COVID-19 case numbers.

The district cited a “notable increase” in infections among students and staff as among the reasons for its policy change.

If a city has more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period, the schools located there will require masks. The district used data from a Fulton County Board of Health report issued Wednesday to determine that nearly all sites exceeded that threshold.

The rate in Johns Creek, located on the district’s north end, was 98 cases per 100,000 residents, according to health agency report. As a result, nine elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools— Chattahoochee, Johns Creek and Northview — will recommend but not require face coverings.

Everywhere else in the district — from the southern cities of College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto, South Fulton and Union City to the northern points of Alpharetta, Milton, Sandy Springs and Roswell — will require masks.

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Among those locations, the highest incidence rate is in Union City, with 372 cases per 100,000 residents.

“Our ability to continue moving forward depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended to reduce the spread of the virus,” the district said in a Thursday statement.

The district posted a full list of schools and the mask rules on its website (fultonschools.org). Officials plan to update that list weekly based on local case counts.

Fulton also announced an update to its quarantine rules, citing new guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The district says it will now allow all students, no matter their vaccination status, to come to school after being in direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 so long as that student remains symptom free and wears a mask for 10 days after being exposed.