Gwinnett school district drops mask requirement

Deborah Clinkscales, assistant principal, directs students to maintain social distance as students wearing masks arrive to Jackson Elementary School for the first day of school amid the coronavirus outbreak on Aug. 26 2020. Students were required to wear masks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Deborah Clinkscales, assistant principal, directs students to maintain social distance as students wearing masks arrive to Jackson Elementary School for the first day of school amid the coronavirus outbreak on Aug. 26 2020. Students were required to wear masks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Gwinnett County Public Schools is no longer requiring face masks on all school campuses and district facilities.

The school district announced the change in response to last week’s executive order by Gov. Brian Kemp that says districts cannot use a statewide COVID-19 emergency declaration to mandate masks.

Kemp’s order does not ban school mask mandates outright.

“As of June 1, 2021, masks are strongly recommended but not required,” the Gwinnett school district said on its website.

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The school district also attributed its decision to declining COVID-19 case rates in Gwinnett County and the availability of vaccines to people age 12 and older.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the district reported more than 5,000 cases of the coronavirus among students and staff.

The school district expects that some people will continue to wear masks for reasons including underlying health conditions, inability to be vaccinated or personal choice. Schools will keep planning mask breaks, the district said.

School district leaders will continue to monitor guidance from health experts and the state to make decisions about mitigation strategies for next school year, according to the website.

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Gwinnett’s new policy applies to in-person summer school, which begins on the 14th, and to district headquarters, where almost 100 people caused a disturbance during a board of education meeting last month when they refused to wear masks or leave.

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