CHATHAM CO., Ga. (WSAV)- On Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings.
It’s a blanket rule for the whole country, but it could affect places with low vaccination rates, like Georgia, differently.
The new rule will apply to teachers and students whether they are vaccinated or not.
“We don’t have a lot of buy-ins when it comes to vaccines yet,” said Byron Bowers, president of Chatham County’s Association of Educators.
As a teacher, Bowers knows he’ll be working around a lot of unvaccinated kids come fall. He says with no mask mandate in place, he does have concerns.
“I don’t know how much parents have done it, but if you look at the rates for the state of Georgia and Chatham, it’s low,” said Bowers.
“That’s my concern that we are going to have an outbreak again and we are going to have to go back virtual,” he added.
The decision to make masks optional was made based on falling infection rates, but as of late they have been on the rise. The new, highly contagious Delta variant accounts for nearly 50% of COVID cases nationwide.
On June 28th, Chatham County was averaging seven covid cases a day, but over the weekend that number more than doubled.
“I can’t say what it would take for us to change the status that we’ve chosen now, which is to remain optional, but I would suggest that it would have to do with a high community transmission and recommendation by the department of health,” said Lisa Wilson, a nurse with SCCPSS.
Wilson says the school will still conduct contract tracing investigations if a child gets COVID-19. Staff members will also be asked to self-monitor and report symptoms.
She says they’ll also try to keep students 3 feet apart.
“At times this may not be possible, but will be doing the absolute best that we can to ensure that it is,” said Wilson.
At this time, the school system has not yet made a decision on whether they will screen and temperature check every student as they enter the building.