Public schools bringing back mask policy

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With Baldwin County's COVID-19 infection rate rising roughly 600 percent in the last 10 days, the Baldwin County School District has decided to bring back its face mask policy.

The first day back for students is Wednesday. Baldwin County recorded 64 new confirmed PCR cases on Dec. 30, which was the third-most on record, trailing only Aug. 24, 2020 and Aug. 23, 2021.

"Masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors when inside all Baldwin County School District facilities and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status," according to a BCSD press release.

BCSD leaders also used to press release to encourage vaccinations, pointing out that its employee vaccination rate is now greater than 80 percent. Added the press release: "Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Baldwin County School District will continue to provide opportunities for students age 5 and older, faculty, and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We will also continue to follow the safety protocols that have been in place since August to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

COVID cases in local public schools were relatively low prior to the release of students for Christmas break in mid-December. A mere five student cases and two employee cases were recorded during the final three weeks of the first semester, according to the district's online dashboard.

That, however, predated the spread of the Omicron variant, which is the driving factor in Georgia's record-breaking COVID infection rates in recent days.

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