By Wil Crews
Local students in Opelika, Auburn and Lee County will have autonomy over their decision to wear a mask in school as COVID-19 cases throughout the state are decreasing.
At last week’s Lee County School Board meeting, the decision was made for the district to switch to a mask optional policy for its faculty and students as of Oct. 20. The decision comes two months after the board made masking mandatory, following a spike in cases in the first two weeks of the school year.
As of last week, Superintendent Mac McCoy said there were between 25 and 30 positive COVID cases among students and staffers in the district. With that number reaching above the thousand mark earlier in the school year, the board said the decision was ultimately based on the drop in cases.
Following in the footsteps of the Lee County School Board’s decision, the Auburn and Opelika School Districts (who have mandated masks since the onset of the school year) also announced a switch to mask optional policies, taking effect on Nov. 1.
“The number of positive COVID cases in the Opelika Schools has been consistently low over the past few weeks,” read a press release from Opelika City Schools. “After consulting with members of the local medical community, OCS has decided to make mask optional for students, staff and visitors beginning Nov. 1.”
The release went on to say that if the positivity rate in Opelika schools and the community increases “significantly”, the mask requirement will be reinstated.
For Auburn City Schools, masks will remain optional as long as the number of positive cases is 52 or less every two weeks and the total positivity rate for the student and staff populations remains under half a percentage point, according to its press release.
Lee County, Auburn and Opelika City School’s official statements went on to add that masks are still required on buses.