Schools, local governments update mask policies following new CDC recommendations

Many different school districts and municipalities in Georgia are charging their policies following Friday's announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that masks aren't needed for all Americans.

Many agencies have announced changes to the COVID-19 policies and procedures after that announcement.

Here is a list of those changes:

City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city’s indoor mask mandate has been lifted, but masks will still be required at public meetings and programs in city facilities. 

Public Agencies affiliated with the City such as Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., will resume in-person meetings.

"Advances in life-saving vaccines, downward trends in cases and—most importantly—the vigilance and resilience of the Atlanta community have all brought us to this new space of hope," said Mayor Andre Dickens. "As we continue to rely on data and science, Atlanta remains forever grateful for our public health professionals, our healthcare workers and our frontline workers who continue to give their all so that we may begin this optimistic path toward our new normal."

The moratorium on residential evictions and filings for housing units and developments funded through the city or county remains in place.

City Hall has updated its HVAC and air circulation to address air quality and particles. Other city facilities will soon follow.

Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools will start a mask optional protocol for all facilities starting March 1.

Students and staff who end isolation after 5 days will still be required to wear a mask for the remainder of the 10 days after they develop symptoms or have tested positive if they show no symptoms. And regardless of vaccination status, students and staff exposed to a positive COVID-19 case should continue to wear a mask for the full 10 days after exposure per Georgia Department of Public Health recommendations.

In a statement Friday, the district wrote:

"APS recognizes that some students and staff may prefer to continue wearing a mask indoors, and we support this decision. APS schools and offices will continue to have masks available for students and staff who may need them."

The district said the final installment of air purifiers will be installed by the end of the month.

APS said it will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.

Gwinnett County Schools

The state’s largest school district announced on Friday it would being to transition from requiring masks indoor to strongly recommending them. 

That is based off of Friday’s new CDC recommendations.

In a statement issued Friday, the district wrote in part:

"According to the CDC, Gwinnett County is currently in a ‘Low’ level of community spread. At this level, individuals are encouraged to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and to get tested if they have symptoms.

"In light of this updated guidance and Gwinnett County’s designation in the ‘Low’ level of community spread, Gwinnett County Public Schools will transition from requiring masks to strongly recommending the use of masks in its facilities."

The school district added that it would be reviewing all of its quarantine and isolation procedures in the coming days to move more in line with the CDC recommendations.

DeKalb County Schools

On Tuesday, March 1, the DeKalb County School District announced that it will begin lifting mandatory mask requirements for all staff and students.

Starting March 2, mask wearing will be strongly encouraged but not mandated for all staff students and visitors in DeKalb County schools,

Any individuals who have symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or are exposed to anyone with COVID-19 will need to continue to wear masks and follow district-wide protocols.

"Based on available information at this time, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will be lifting the mandatory mask requirement for all staff and students," officials said in part.

City of Decatur Schools

In Decatur, officials say masks will strongly recommend but not required for staff and students starting March 1.

The new rules cover students, faculty, staff, vendors, and visitors both inside school buildings and on school buses.

"While this decision will be celebrated by many of our families, we acknowledge that it is concerning to many others. I want to be clear: families and students will be supported in their masking decisions, and bullying or harassment will not be tolerated," City of Decatur Schools Superintendent Dr. Maggie Fehrman said in a letter to parents. "Families, please talk about this with your children and stress the importance of respecting the personal choice of others. I will also continue to wear a mask at all times when visiting schools."