AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The start of school in Richmond County is less than a week away. Now beginning August 2nd, all students, staff, and visitors at Richmond County schools will be required to wear a mask.

Experts with the Centers for Disease Control say everyone should wear a mask indoors regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status and Richmond County school leaders agree.

“Though there have been changes at the state level in how the response is categorized, we’ve maintained that partnership because the safety of our students and staff is what we prioritized of course throughout this pandemic,” said the school system’s chief public relations officer, Lynthia Ross.

Thursday’s decision for mandatory masks inside schools also applies to busses.

School board member Walter Eubanks said, “Just as long as we can get open and get these children back in the classroom with each other and with a teacher, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Students are allowed to ditch the mask when outside or during lunch.

“Over the course of the pandemic, there have been administrative decisions that have been made not without input or feedback from our board members. Our administration has consistently shared guidance that we receive from public health officials with the board members prior to announcing these types of decisions,” said Ross.

Richmond County school district leaders are keeping a close watch on delta variant activity within their community according to Ross.

She added, “We’re working with our public health partner and local health care providers to make sure we’re staying on top of the latest information and that we’re making decisions in conjunction with them.”

“As of right now we’re opening up and I hope to God that we stay open. I just can’t imagine another year like the last year and a half,” said Eubanks.

Plans are in the works to accommodate students and school employees who can’t wear a mask for medical reasons.

Under the new policy, masks will be mandatory at open house events for Richmond County Schools.

Open house for Richmond County schools are as follows:

  • Middle and high schools, August 2, 2021, Noon to 6:00 p.m.
  • Elementary and K-8 schools, August, 3, 2021, Noon to 6:00 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Richmond County School System has updated back to school plans to require masks in response to the updated CDC guidance issued July 27th.

Beginning August 2nd, masks will be required for all K-12 students, staff and visitors to all Richmond County School System facilities and on school busses regardless of vaccination status.

RCSS will reopen for in-person instruction for all students. Elementary students start back on Thursday, August 5th while K-8, Middle, and High Schools will start Monday, August 9th.

The School System will continue to work with the Department of Public Health to implement best practices for COVID-19 response and reporting. CDC and DPH guidance states, students identified as close contact with positive COVID-19 cases will not have to quarantine if both are wearing masks properly in a school setting.

Students will be allowed to take off their masks during lunch and while they are outside. Accommodations will be made for those unable to wear masks for documented medical reasons.

Richmond County School System will continue to update COVID-19 mitigation plans throughout the 2021-2022 school year.