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Parents Petition CCSD to Restore Mask Mandate

Stock photo by August de Richelieu.

Several Clarke County School District parents started a petition after they’d learned that CCSD had quietly rescinded the mask mandate for summer school, as previously reported in Flagpole. While communication on masks was sent out via a letter to parents, several parents complained that there was not enough of an effort to make sure that parents were notified of the change. 

“Masks are optional for fully vaccinated individuals during Summer School. Aligned with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, CCSD strongly urges anyone who is not fully vaccinated to wear a mask while indoors,” spokesman Donald Porter said in a statement. “Additionally, health and safety strategies such as hand washing and social distancing continue to be encouraged during the school day, and current COVID-19 reporting protocols remain in place. So if any child, staff member, or someone in their household tests positive for COVID-19, the school is to be notified promptly.”

CCSD has not yet announced a mask policy for the coming school year, but some parents are unhappy about the summer policy.

“As a parent, I can’t understate how important it was for the 2020-21 school year that the district required masks and seemed to be making efforts to protect the health and safety of our kids. They did significantly better in this respect than in the surrounding counties,” Dina Canup said. “CCSD needs to clearly state and communicate the mask requirements for fall 2021, and soon. Kids under 12 aren’t even eligible for the vaccine, and with the Delta variant due to be the dominant strain in the US within the coming weeks, it’s even more urgent and necessary to require masks until kids under 12 can be fully vaccinated.”

The district will return to in-person, face-to-face regular instruction beginning on Aug. 4. Virtual learning will not be available for elementary or middle school students, but virtual courses will be available to high school students. After-school programming will once again be offered. 

For now, Clarke County case numbers remain low, and vaccination rates continue to improve each week. The seven-day moving average of daily new cases as of July 1 was 1.3. COVID-19 hospitalized one person, and no deaths were reported last week. 

While this phase of the vaccination effort has moved more slowly than initial mass vaccination efforts, Clarke and surrounding counties continue to see more people vaccinated each week. As of July 1, 47,975 Clarke County residents, or 38%, are fully vaccinated, and another 51,779 residents, or 41%, have received at least one dose.