Forsyth County Schools announced Friday that fully vaccinated staff members are no longer required to wear a mask in school buildings under COVID-19 guidelines.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden lifted the restriction following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement on Thursday that it is no longer recommending the wearing of masks indoors or outdoors for fully vaccinated residents, with some exceptions.
“This is the only change being made to our current protocol,” a statement on the district’s website reads. “We will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases, information and guidance as it becomes available this May and also throughout the summer.”
Residents are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The school district first began requiring masks for staff members in November as COVID-19 cases began to rise in schools going into the winter season. The district started to see the highest number of cases reported among face-to-face students and staff so far in the pandemic, with 82 cases reported Nov. 9-13 and another 70 cases reported the next week out of the more than 41,000 staff and students.
While Bearden said at the time that the numbers were not too alarming, he wanted to put the rule in place to protect students and stub out rising case numbers. The mask mandate applied to any staff member or visitor, both in the schools and at athletic events, who could not socially distance themselves from others.
Now, however, new active COVID-19 cases within Forsyth County's schools have decreased dramatically, falling to numbers the district has not seen since the beginning of the school year last August. During the last week of April, the district reported 43 new cases along with another 36 new cases during the first week of May. These new cases are out of more than 43,500 students and staff.
Although cases have fallen, mask mandates are still in place for visitors and for staff members who have not yet been fully vaccinated.For more information, visit the district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us..