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Face masks required for Marietta students in 2020-21 school year

Marietta City Schools will require masks or face coverings for all students, staff members and visitors while inside buildings and on school buses when the new school year starts Aug. 4.
Marietta City Schools will require masks or face coverings for all students, staff members and visitors while inside buildings and on school buses when the new school year starts Aug. 4.

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Students in the Marietta City School System will be required to wear face masks if they plan to return to the classroom next month.

The school system will require masks or face coverings for all students, staff members and visitors while inside buildings and on school buses when the new school year starts Aug. 4, Superintendent Dr. Grant Rivera said. Rivera said the requirement is based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Exemptions will be given for medical reasons, and while students are eating and drinking, participating in outdoor activities and while staff members are working in offices where social distancing can be maintained, Rivera said.

The superintendent said the system will encourage families to buy reusable or washable masks for students, but schools will have disposable masks on hand for children who do not have them. He also said students and staff will have an opportunity to take off masks when they are outside school buildings and can maintain at least six feet of space between themselves.


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“Our teachers will create as many opportunities as possible for students to be outside and socially distanced during the school day,” he said in a message sent to parents over the holiday weekend.

Marietta City Schools is also exploring the option of installing clear table partitions for prekindergarten and elementary school students because “our youngest learners may not have the self-discipline to consistently wear their face coverings,” Rivera said.

The Cobb County School District will encourage, but not require, students and staff to wear masks when they are unable to socially distance, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said last week.

Marietta City Schools is set to start the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 4. Parents are encouraged to inform the school system by July 8 if they want their children to resume their lessons in person or continue their studies remotely.

Rivera said while Cobb County Schools has delayed its return to class by two weeks, Marietta will press on with reopening on Aug. 4 unless health department guidelines change.

“While I respect their decision, their dynamics do not alter the fact that we will be ready to open as planned,” he said.

Marietta school board member Jason Waters said the system is “doing the right thing” with the mask requirement. Because there’s no end in sight to the pandemic, Marietta can’t predict when or for how long it might need to close a building due to a student becoming sick. Requiring masks will give the system a better chance of completing the 180-day school calendar.

“If masks can help us keep kids in school, they are going to be better educated,” he said.