SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) will be requiring all students and staff to wear masks in this upcoming school year.
The school system made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Hours later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines for schools, recommending teachers, staff, students and visitors wear masks indoors, even if vaccinated.
“We are not able to social distance this year to a wide extent because our intention is to serve as many children as possible in person. And thus, we need everyone’s cooperation to meet that goal,” SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett said.
“If the conditions dictate that we move to hybrid, we are prepared to do so,” she added.
Masks will also be required on school buses. Drivers will have extra PPE for students that don’t have a mask. It will also be enforced in cafeterias.
Gyms and stadiums will be at full capacity this school year. Spectators will be encouraged to wear masks during outdoor games, but it will not be required.
Schools will continue to use contactless water bottle fillers, sanitizing wipes, temperature kiosks and will sanitize buses between routes.
Shared water fountains will also be off-limits and the school will change all air filters every two months.
Levett says there will be no disciplinary action for students who choose not to wear masks, but the school will insist the family chooses the E-Learning Academy option instead.
She says many parents have reached out to the district in support of the decision.
“We’ve gotten emails from them all of last week, all of this week including this morning, thanking us for taking this step,” Levett said.
Gov. Brian Kemp in May signed an executive order restricting school districts across the state from mandating masks. However, the governor’s office clarified that the order prohibits schools from using the state of emergency declaration to require masks in schools.
At this time, the vaccine is available to children ages 12 and older. Safety and efficacy testing is underway in those younger than 12.