Gwinnett County Public Schools announced it will no longer require people wear face masks in its facilities, in light of a recent order by Gov. Brian Kemp. But the district is pleading with visitors to continue wearing them for the time being.
In a new set of guidance announced on GCPS’ social media, the district said face masks are “strongly recommended but not required” in district facilities. Kemp issued an executive order on May 28 that, among other things, barred school districts from issuing mask mandates.
“The district is mindful that while masks will not be required there will be individuals who will continue to wear masks for a number of reasons (e.g. underlying health conditions, not eligible or unable to be vaccinated, personal choice, etc.),” GCPS officials said in an announcement. “In consideration of these individuals who continue wearing masks, schools will continue to plan for appropriate mask breaks.”
District officials said their stance on how to handle face masks in light of Kemp’s order is intended to take into account not only the governor’s order but also COVID-19 case rates in Gwinnett County and the face that children ages 12 and older can now get vaccinated against the disease.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported on Tuesday that Gwinnett County’s two-week rate of new COVID-19 cases was 45 cases for every 100,000 residents. State health officials also reported 351,433 Gwinnettians, abotu 38% of the county’s population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and that 292,579 people, or about 32% of the county’s residents, are fully vaccinated.
“District leaders will continue to monitor for new guidance from health partners and the state, using it to inform decision-making about mitigation strategies that might be needed for the 2021-22 school year,” GCPS officials said.