Are masks mandated in your kids’ school district? Here’s the list

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:05 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With masks required for some students in the CSRA and only encouraged for others as COVID-19 cases flare, you may have questions.

We checked with school districts across the CSRA, and here’s what we learned about whether kids will need to wear masks:

Georgia districts

  • Richmond County – Masks are mandated for anyone on campus.
  • Columbia County – Masks are strongly encouraged for all students and staff, particularly those who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Burke County – Masks are recommended, especially when social distancing can be difficult.
  • Glascock County – Masks are required on buses. Buildings will have limited visitors, and temperature checks are required.
  • Hancock County – Masks are required at all times.
  • Jenkins County – Masks are encouraged.
  • Lincoln County – Masks are recommended and will be provided masks to students who want them.
  • McDuffie County – Masks are mandated.
  • Screven County – The question of masks is up to families.
  • Taliaferro County – Masks are required at all times.
  • Warren County – Masks are required at all times
  • Washington County – Students are expected to wear masks if they are closer than 3 feet. There will be mandated temperatures checks.
Here's a look at the mask situation in two of our big local school districts.
Here's a look at the mask situation in two of our big local school districts.(WRDW)

South Carolina districts

  • Aiken County – The matter is up to families. The district encourages masks.
  • Bamberg County 1 – The matter is up to families. The district encourages masks.
  • Bamberg County 2, Denmark-Olar – The matter is up to families. The district encourages masks.
  • McCormick County – Masks are required on buses. The district recommends them.

A closer look at the mask question

The Richmond County School System is the biggest local district to require masks. Here’s a look at the situation:

Why was the decision made?

The rise in positive cases in our area, low vaccination rate, and the 17,351 students under the age of 12 unable to get the vaccine are the main reasons masks are back. In Richmond County not having enough teachers and substitutes was why campuses were closing from time to time last school year. Now they’re hoping vaccines will reduce that problem.

The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance for K-12 schools issued Tuesday. Experts at the CDC urged the use of masks in school, regardless of vaccination status, as the super-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has COVID-19 cases rising across the country.

The school district said the decision was made “with the safety of its nearly 30,000 students and 4,000 employees as a priority” and in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health and in light of COVID-19 conditions in Richmond County. Those conditions include positive case data, vaccine eligibility and vaccination rates.

“For us to bring all our students in and to do it safely is our priority and that’s why we’ve made this decision,” said Lynthia Ross, Richmond County School System chief public information officer.

“We should see fewer incidents of our teachers or our students even having to quarantine by taking this simple step,” said Ross.

When does the change take effect?

The change took effect Aug. 2, with masks required for all students, staff and visitors to all Richmond County School System facilities and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status. The move will come ahead of students’ return to the classroom. Elementary students will start school Aug. 5, while students attending K-8, middle and high schools will start Aug. 9.

Are there any exceptions?

Students will be permitted to remove masks during lunch and while outside (on the playground, mask breaks, etc.). Accommodations will be made for students and employees unable to wear a mask for documented medical reasons.

Anything else I should know?

According to CDC and state guidance, students or staff identified as close contacts to a positive case for COVID-19 will not have to quarantine if both are properly wearing masks in the school setting. As COVID-19 conditions in our community change and guidance from the CDC and DPH is updated, the Richmond County School System will update COVID-19 mitigation plans throughout the 2021–22 school year.

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