Clayton and DeKalb county school districts have announced they will be implementing a universal mask mandate ahead of the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

This is in direct opposition to an executive order signed by Governor Brian Kemp on May 28, banning public schools from using the Public Health Emergency to require face coverings for students or workers.

Both Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) and the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will require masks regardless of vaccination status. Students and staff will have to be masked inside school buildings and on school buses. Masks have been made optional for outdoor activities and can be removed for the lunch period.

Dr. Kamina Pinder, associate professor of practice at Emory University School of Law, said it is unlikely that Governor Kemp will challenge the school district’s mandates.

“Although the 10th amendment allows the state government to make regulations that protect public health— the order doesn’t usurp unilaterally and completely the power each district has to create policies in their own schools,” Pinder said.

The order does mean that school districts can no longer use the authority of the State of Georgia’s declared public health emergency as a basis to enforce a mask mandate.

Given that Gov. Kemp gave businesses the autonomy to decide whether to mandate masks for workers and customers, Dr. Pinder said it is unlikely he would then put that restriction on school districts.

The other three districts in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties have already announced they will not require masks indoors ahead of the upcoming school year.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced masks would be required for the 2021-2022 school year. APS just announced that masks would continue to be required for the remainder of school year and throughout summer school.


This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.


Reports show that schools in Georgia, such as the Atlanta Public School System, have suffered a decline in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Courtesy/Atlanta Public Schools)

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