Mask not required, strongly encouraged at Newton County schools
NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - A metro Atlanta school district announced it is lifting a mask mandate for students and staff after the rule was in effect for approximately two months.
Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey announced Saturday masks are no longer required, but strongly encouraged for students and staff. The mandate was initiated on Aug. 9.
"It was stated, at the time the mandate was instituted, that it would be temporary and correlate directly to our community conditions," Fuhrey said. "After continuous review of the COVID-19 data and consulting with our local medical professionals and advising the school board on their feedback, beginning Monday, November 8th, masks will be strongly recommended for all students and staff.
"While we are loosening our mask requirement, it continues to be important that students and staff wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, and watch their distance as an integral part of our layered prevention strategy."
Newton County schools' latest weekly COVID-19 update reported 12 new COVID-19 student cases and four new staff cases. According to the district, 36 students and two staff members are under precautionary quarantines.
At the end of August, the district reported 154 new student cases and 24 staff cases were reported and approximately 500 students and staff members were quarantined.
"Since August 9th our students and employees have been practicing the three W’s –washing their hands, wearing their masks, and watching their distance—and I am confident their actions have played a huge role in the decrease in COVID-19 cases in both our school system and the Newton County community at large," Fuhrey said
The mask mandate is subject to return as the district monitors local case numbers.
"We are approaching the holiday season and people will congregate amongst family and friends who they might not ordinarily see," Fuhrey said. "The chances of becoming exposed to COVID-19 will be high. So please understand, if our community’s COVID-19 cases increase again, we will be forced to reinstitute the mask mandate."
On Nov. 5, the state's seven-day moving average of 697 positive cases was the lowest tally since July 17. The seven-day moving average of confirmed deaths, 45.1, is the lowest since Aug. 25.
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