Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said during Thursday’s board of education meeting that masks will remain optional, but “strongly encouraged” in schools. He said the district has encouraged people to get vaccinated, but it remains a personal choice.
“At this time, I do not believe it is appropriate to mandate either decision, which will remove the ability for each family to make the best decision for them as a family,” he said.
Georgia has the nation’s fourth-highest number of children currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to health data. Only one in five Georgians between the ages of 12 and 17 is fully vaccinated.
Late Thursday, Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Cupid signed a declaration of emergency due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Masks are also optional in Cherokee, Fayette, Forsyth and Buford City schools, but are required in Atlanta, Clayton, Decatur, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry county schools.
Cobb schools’ cumulative COVID-19 case count is now 1,764, up from 822. School-by-school cumulative numbers reflect cases counted since the 2021-2022 school year started Aug. 2.
Starting Monday, a change in the district’s public health protocol will go into effect. The new rule requires anyone identified as close contact to quarantine at home for three days following exposure. Once those three days are up, they have the option to return to school if they are asymptomatic and wear a mask 10 days after initial exposure.
Ragsdale also said Thursday that any student who has to quarantine at home will have their absences excused.