Mask policies for each school district in metro Atlanta

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 27, 2021, now recommends that vaccinated people wear masks indoors again in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging and that everyone in K-12 schools wears masks, regardless of vaccination status.

The new guidelines come as a growing number of cities and towns have restored their own indoor masking rules.

School districts across metro Atlanta have updated their mask policy in response to the CDC’s recommendations.

Here is a list of the current mask policies for each public school district:


As of July 22, APS says students heading back to class will be required to wear masks in school buildings. APS says that they will implement a Universal Mask Wearing protocol that covers all schools and buildings in the school system.

Officials pointed to students under the age of 12 not being able to be vaccinated as well as the rise of the Delta variant, which spread more than 200% faster than the original, as two reasons behind the decision. 

Under the guidelines, masks will be required for all students and staff members in all schools and buildings during the school and workday as well as in after-school activities and clubs. Masks will also be required on school buses, in locker rooms, and band and chorus practices, classes, and events.

Masks will be optional in outdoor activities like recess, the cafeteria, outdoor athletics, and outdoor practices.

Carroll County

As of July 29, here is the policy of Carroll County Schools:

  • Health officials recommend masks to be worn indoors by students and staff
  • Physical distancing will be encouraged when practical
  • Sharing of supplies and electronic devices will be limited
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at all school campuses and on buses
  • High touch surfaces and common areas will be disinfected frequently
  • Buses will be disinfected frequently
  • Good hygiene practices will be expected and reinforced regularly
  • Staff will monitor for signs and symptoms of illness

Clayton County

On Tuesday, Clayton County Schools announced their "Operational Game Plan" for the upcoming school year which requires everyone to wear masks in school buildings and submit to temperature checks when entering buildings.

Cobb County

As of July 20, Cobb County Schools says wearing a mask is optional for students and staff in school buildings, on school buses, and at extracurricular activities. The district will continue to encourage social distancing in the classroom and when appropriate and feasible. It also will continue to sanitize highly-touched surfaces in school buildings as disinfect school buses after the morning and afternoon routes.

DeKalb County

As of July 12, the DeKalb County School District implemented the following mask policies:

  • All students must wear masks when riding school buses. This requirement is consistent with the CDC's recommendations that all persons should wear masks when utilizing public transportation.
  • Masks are required for elementary-age students due to no availability of vaccines for this age group. Schools will utilize best practices for cafeterias and other areas where it would be difficult for students to wear masks.
  • Masks are required for middle and high school students as well as for all staff. Although masks for fully vaccinated staff and students (12 and over) are optional per CDC guidance, out of an abundance of caution, masks will be required in all buildings. The district will review effective methods to identify students and staff who are vaccinated and will re-evaluate optional mask-wearing. Parents are strongly encouraged to consult with their health care provider for the best vaccine options for their family.
  • Staff or students that present with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home away from others and seek care from their healthcare provider.
  • Wearing masks are required for the After School Extended Day Programs (ASEDP) for activities occurring indoors. Masks are optional for activities held outside.
  • Masks are optional for athletic sports activities.
  • Masks are required in lockers rooms, and weight rooms. Athletic teams are required to follow all protocols established by the Georgia High School Association for safety at sporting events.
  • Masks are required for all clubs that meet indoors. Masks are optional for activities held outside. 2Staff will continue to utilize the COVID-19 District Protocol when reporting exposure/positive COVID-19 cases.

Douglas County

Beginning Aug. 4, Douglas County School System will require masks for all students, staff, and visitors in buildings and buses.

Superintendent Trent North said the police could change as COVID-19 transmission decreases and the vaccination rates increases.

Fulton County

As of Aug. 2, the Fulton County Schools changed its mask policy in response to increased transmission and positive tests of vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff. 

The school district said it would implement the following strategies:

  • Masks will remain optional when conditions allow.
  • The district’s mitigation strategy will consider the level of spread in each of our local communities.
  • Schools located in municipalities where the rate of infection exceeds 100 per 100,000 residents will require all students, personnel, and visitors to wear masks until such time as the level of spread drops. Data will be taken from the FCBOH Epidemiology Reports.
  • Any FCS school or facility located within a jurisdiction where the state, county or municipality requires a mask be worn in public spaces will honor such orders until such time as it has expired.
  • The district will provide students, visitors and employees with masks meeting the criteria established by the CDC to include N95, KN95, multi-layered cloth washable and approved disposable masks.
  • All students and employees must notify the district if they have been directly exposed to an individual with COVID-19, received a positive COVID-19 result or are awaiting test results.
  • All students and staff may continue reporting to school and work after a direct exposure, if the individual remains symptom free and wears a mask while on school district property for 10 days after exposure. The GADPH and the FCBOH strongly encourages individuals directly exposed to COVID-19 get tested after 3-5 days.
  • All passengers and drivers on school buses will be required to wear a mask in compliance with federal orders.
  • FCS will continue to use a localized approach to school closures by employing the district’s Closing Matrix.
  • All Fulton County Schools will continue to adhere to additional mitigation strategies. These include limiting large group gatherings, ensuring clean and sanitized facilities and buses, cleaning classrooms and buildings throughout the day, encouraging frequent hand washing, limiting of communal items, and practicing physical (social) distancing where practical.

Gwinnett County

As of July 27, the Gwinnett County School District says it is changing the mask policy due to the new CDC recommendations. Masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors.

The schools will work to give students what are being called "mask breaks" where students can safely remove masks for a time.

"We realize this does not allow families a lot of time to make this decision, but we must have this information by this date to ensure schools are staffed appropriately to serve students and student schedules are finalized prior to the start of school," Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks wrote. "A layered approach is needed to keep our students safe and in school. Masks are one of the tools proven to be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. It is time for us to mask up and take advantage of vaccination opportunities to help our community get past the pandemic."

Parents will have the option to change their child's instructional preference through Aug 2.

Heard County

As of July 29, Heard County Schools will allow face masks to be worn by students and staff who choose to wear them. The district will not require students and bus drivers to wear masks on school buses but will have one available for those who wish to wear one.

Newton County

On Aug. 6, Newton County School System's superintendent announced the district enacted a temporary mask mandate, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases

While the mask rule is in effect, schools will have masks available for students and staff.

Pickens County

As of July 28, Pickens County Schools said they have revisited their current plan for the upcoming school year to align with the updated CDC guidance. It recommends individuals wear masks inside buildings as the CDC's new guidance states, but it is not enforcing a mandate.

More mask policies will be added to this list as that information is released by the school districts. Check back here for the latest.

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