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Georgia school district leaders respond to new mask recommendations

Posted at 12:17 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 00:17:32-04

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WTXL) — The American Academy of Pediatrics announced this week that masking up is best for school this fall.

With 16 days until classes begin, Lowndes County School district leaders said they're sticking with guidance from the CDC.

"As it stands now, masks, facial coverings, will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year," said Laverne Rome, Lowndes County Schools director of public relations.

Thomas County Schools is taking the same approach for its August 9 start, saying in a written statement, "wearing of masks will be optional while in schools, however, it is highly recommended that students and staff who are not vaccinated wear masks."

Grady County students don’t head back until September 1, giving school leaders more time to consider new recommendations.

"Now hearing that there’s new guidance out there, will take all of that into consideration and make a recommendation after our August meeting based on the information we have," said superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard.

One South Georgia parent that spoke to ABC 27 said they will be sending her 8-year old back inside the classroom after a year of virtual learning.

“I did get her a lot of masks,” said Lowndes County mom Rasheda Bruton.

Additionally, she said optional masks are fine for children who’ve been vaccinated, but that she would rather have more options to keep younger kids like hers protected.

"I’m hoping that she’ll be able to keep the mask on and follow the rules that are going on, but I really think that they should keep the ones that's not able to get vaccinated home, because it’s spreading like wildfire, and the surge is going up," Bruton said.

All three districts said they reserve the right to change the mask policy at any time according to guidance from the Georgia Board of Education and local health officials.