Atlanta Public Schools to Transition to Masks Optional in Schools, Offices Beginning Tuesday
Monday, February 28th, 2022
Atlanta Public Schools will be updating some of its COVID-19 mitigation strategies beginning Tuesday, March 1, including:
- Moving to a mask-optional policy in all district buildings for all faculty, staff, students and visitors;
- Removing the mandatory testing requirement for students participating in athletics and extracurricular activities; and
- Shifting mandatory testing for employees from twice-weekly to once per week.
This decision is based on the CDC’s new recommendations and a combination of other factors, including:
- A significant decrease in COVID-19 community transmission for both Dekalb and Fulton counties, which is expected to continue trending downward;
- A decrease in positive COVID-19 cases among APS students and staff;
- The final installation of air purifiers in all APS classrooms by Monday, February 28;
- Continued COVID-19 Surveillance Testing as an effective mitigation strategy, with the successful roll-out of the APS Test to Stay Program, mandatory twice-weekly testing for staff and for students participating in athletics and extracurricular activities, and optional twice-weekly testing for every student; and
- Ongoing vaccination events in partnership with the Fulton County Board of Health, C.O.R.E., and Viral Solutions.
APS recognizes that some students and staff may prefer to continue wearing a mask while indoors, and the district supports this decision. As the transition is made to the mask-optional policy, members of the APS community are encouraged to please respect everyone’s right to mask or not to mask as they see fit.
Schools and offices will continue to have masks available for students and staff who may need them.
“As we make this transition, we want to thank all of our students, employees, parents and visitors to our schools and offices for their grace, patience and resilience. They have helped our students, staff, and community stay protected by following the plan of action, even when it was hard or inconvenient,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said. “And you have remained flexible when the plan has been adapted in response to emerging situations and new information. Thank you!”
Please note there are some instances where masks will still be required (and APS will update these guidelines as regulations change):
- Per federal law, masks will still be required on all school buses.
- Per Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) recommendations, 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 but show no symptoms). And regardless of vaccination status, students and staff who are exposed to a positive COVID-19 case should continue to wear a mask for the full 10 days after exposure.
APS will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the community and in schools, and will consider COVID data and guidance from the CDC and DPH in making future decisions regarding masking and additional mitigation strategies. For now, the district will continue:
- Isolating individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19;
- Contact tracing and quarantining exposed individuals who are not up-to-date on vaccines or are not participating in our Test to Stay option;
- Providing optional surveillance testing for students;
- Facilitating mandatory weekly testing for all staff;
- Hosting vaccination events with health and community partners;
- Encouraging physical distancing when possible; and
- Encouraging staff and students to stay home when sick.