The mask mandate for Athens City Schools students and staff has been extended for more than a month.
Originally implemented on Sept. 7, the mandate is for students grades 3-8 and includes a parental opt-out.
Opt-out forms were sent home with 3rd through 8th grade students on Tuesday, Aug. 31 and the form has also been on the system’s website or a copy can be provided from a child’s school.
During Monday night’s regular board meeting, ACS Family Engagement & Coordinated School Health Director Julie Lofland gave an update on the system’s COVID-19 numbers and also announced the mask extension through Nov. 30. It was originally scheduled to expire on Oct. 1.
“We’ll look at it again at that time and see if it needs to be extended or not,” she said.
Lofland noted that there were five positive COVID-19 cases last week in the schools and two positives were reported on Monday, which she saw as a good sign.
“Most of the time on Mondays we have a huge amount of in the home exposures and we only had two reports today,” she said, adding that one student had to be contact traced.
She also mentioned that 56% of the ACS staff has been vaccinated to this point.
ACS Director of Schools Robert Greene also stressed the importance of masking and getting vaccinated, for those who are eligible.
“We don’t quarantine somebody who has their mask on or has been vaccinated,” he said. “That’s what parents want is their kids in school and we’ve been able to avoid quarantining kids because they’ve had masks on.”
Greene also reminded people that the bulk of exposures to COVID-19 and positive tests aren’t coming from instances in the schools.
“Over half our exposures are at home,” he said.