Atlanta defies Gov. Kemp’s declaration of no school mask mandate

Atlanta Public Schools will require students and staff to wear face masks this coming year after Gov. Brian Kemp declared the state would not have mask mandates for children, but fell short of outright banning the requirements in an executive order. 

“We’re not going to have a mask mandate for our kids,” Kemp said in May. “Our teachers have had the ability to get vaccinated. It certainly doesn’t keep anyone from wearing a mask.” 

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His executive order on the matter, however, fell short of outright banning such mandates in schools.

Kemp’s order instead said his coronavirus emergency declaration “does not include the authority for local school districts to rely on the Public Health State of Emergency as a basis for requiring students or workers to wear a face covering” on school property. 

The order means school districts could not claim authority that such mask mandates came from the governor, which Atlanta is now capitalizing on in its updated requirement for students returning to the classroom.  

“Consistent and correct use of mask-wearing has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Atlanta Public Schools said in a statement released Thursday. 

School officials said that the rise of the Delta variant coupled with students under the age of 12 not being eligible to receive the vaccine motivated them to enforce mask wearing. 

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Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’s request for comment on his executive order in light of Atlanta’s new requirement. 

Atlanta isn’t alone in the new requirement, and joins DeKalb and Clayton counties in requiring masks for their students and school staff. 

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Atlanta’s requirement also comes after The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its mask guidance this week to recommend that all students over the age of two wear masks regardless of vaccination status. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on children and the coronavirus states “most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all,” while noting that “some children can get severely ill from COVID-19.”

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The CDC recommends that masks “be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.”

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