MARIETTA, Ga. — Marietta City Schools will begin requiring masks next Monday, Aug. 23, the school district said on Thursday.
In a statement, the school district said all students, staff and visitors - including those who are fully vaccinated - would be subject to the mandate. It will apply inside all MCS buildings and school buses.
The district characterized the mandate as "temporary" in a letter to parents, but currently there is no specified end to the policy. The district said the end of the mandate would be based on "factors such as community cases, MCS-specific cases and transmission, etc."
Masks will not be required for outdoor activities or while eating.
The letter, sent by MCS Superintendent Grant Rivera, said during the first nine days of school (Aug. 3-13) there were 38 student cases and seven staff cases.
Of those, Rivera said one student case was epidemiologically linked to school transmission.
The district's rate of new cases has shot up dramatically in the last three days, though, with 42 new student positive tests and nine positive staff tests. Rivera told families that 15 of those student cases and one of the staff cases had been linked to school-based transmission.
The superintendent framed the mask mandate as a way to soften current quarantine protocols.
"I am greatly concerned about the high number of students, staff, and families who are impacted by the current quarantine protocol. To that end, given the aforementioned mask requirement, Cobb & Douglas Public Health confirmed that we can now modify our quarantine protocols. The identification of close contacts will shift from six feet to three feet of distance, thereby allowing us to use even more discretion in who is identified as a close contact and subsequently quarantined. With this new approach, we are confident we can keep more students learning in our classrooms with less interruptions to our families," Rivera said in his letter.