Clarke County School District students and staff by and large followed CCSD’s mask mandate during the first week of the 2021-22 school year, according to Chief Academic Officer Brannon Gaskins.
“We’ve received some emails from parents, but in the school building our students have been very compliant,” Gaskins reported to the school board at its Aug. 5 work session. “We are receiving feedback from our principals that reminders are needed, but students are being very compliant—even the older kids, which we thought would be an issue.”
After multiple policy shifts over the summer, masks are required for all CCSD students and staff as an effort to safely maintain in-person instruction, considered the best learning model for most students. Rising Delta variant cases and low youth vaccination rates were factors as well. As of Aug. 6, COVID-19 cases in Athens-Clarke County had increased by 274% from the average two weeks ago, and just one in five eligible children were fully vaccinated. Mask compliance in CCSD schools is expected to become even more important with the upcoming return of UGA students.
Gaskins said his team meets daily to discuss changes in community spread and hospital capacity, and a transition to a virtual learning model is being planned in case the need arises.
In addition to the mask mandate, future vaccination and testing events are in the works. “We are meeting as a cabinet on Monday to not only discuss more vaccine events, but also more testing events. We want to make testing more accessible to our staff and students,” Gaskins said. “We hope very soon, when the age range includes our elementary to 6th grade students, that we can get them vaccinated as well.”Four CCSD students and staff tested positive for COVID and one was quarantined during the week of July 31.
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