Three days into the new school year, McDuffie County Schools decided to mandate masks in the schools.

When school started Aug. 2, whether or not a student would wear a mask was left up to their parents. But, by Aug. 5 the school district issued a statement that masks are now required.

According to that statement: “In response to public health data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), McDuffie County Schools has updated its return to school plan to require masks. As of August 5, 2021, masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors to all McDuffie County School System facilities and buses, regardless of vaccination status. The district’s primary concern is the health and safety of students and staff. This decision takes into account current conditions, the rise of COVID-19 cases in McDuffie County, the ineligibility of children age 12 and younger for vaccination, and a federal executive order requiring masks on school buses. The ultimate goal of McDuffie County Schools is to remain open for in-person instruction. According to the CDC and DPH 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. McDuffie County Schools will continue to appreciate the support of our community as we navigate this changing situation.”