Mask Mandates for Students and Teachers in Georgia


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Face mask in car during COVID-19 pandemic

Molly Moore, Writer

Many public schools are facing the dilemma of mask mandates. Since the announcement of the delta variant and since Governor Kemp is not enforcing a mask mandate, schools have struggled with the option of requiring students to wear a mask or if the school system won’t abide by the CDC’s statement.

More than half of Georgia public schools require that covers be worn in class, and 56 out of 180 school districts need masks. This means that about 950,000 Georgia students must wear masks when in school.

The reason school systems are struggling with this issue is because the delta variant has taken over America. This strain is more dangerous than the original COVID strain from about a year ago, and it is endangering the lives of many, old and young. More than one percent of schoolchildren have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past few weeks.

Cartersville High School has also faced this state-wide predicament. At the beginning of the school year, Cartersville was in the “green zone, ” which means that cases were not as widespread.

However, as of the first week of September, Cartersville is now in the “orange zone.” Because of this, students must now follow a set of regulations set in place by the school system.

Students can only walk up and down specific stairwells to prevent spreading the virus; students cannot move seats in case of getting COVID-19 from another student they don’t sit near; and if contact traced, students are required to wear a mask in class.

“Cases are occurring sooner this year, but COVID rates are higher pretty much everywhere,” says Shelley Tierce, principal of Cartersville High School, who is diligently facing the issue along with the rest of the school’s administration. “COVID cases are continuously reported to us depending on the day, and we call about 6-10 students into our office with regards to contact tracing,” Mrs. Tierce says when asked about statistics concerning COVID-19.

Mrs. Tierce is very adamant about masks with reference to the teachers of Cartersville High School, but she chooses not to mandate masks in connection with the students. She recommends that the teachers all wear them (or at least wear them when around students).

Mrs. Tierce received advice from her principal’s leadership team concerning switching to hybrid. Many of the students stated that they would willingly do a hybrid schedule compared to going home periodically, and Mrs. Tierce agreed. “Our goal all along has been to avoid going entirely virtual because students don’t learn as well when at home, and they are not getting scholastic essentials, such as lunch, papers, etc… ”

However, if cases continue to rise, Mrs. Tierce believes a hybrid schedule would be the best option for the school.

Cartersville High School is undergoing many changes, from the construction of the school to monitoring COVID-19. Like Cartersville High School, many schools must decide whether or not students should wear masks, and as a result, schools must face backlash from parents with opposing viewpoints.

No matter what Georgia schools intend on doing, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) highly recommends students wear a mask and get the COVID vaccine (if desired).