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In the Atlanta area, some school districts will require masks. The state’s biggest district is takin

Sara Holton Gard wants officials to set a mask rule for all that would make it easier to enforce.


Six-year-old Audrey Gard will head to first grade next week wearing a mask. It’s a precaution her mom believes will help to minimize the chances of her getting coronavirus. But the Gwinnett County School District, north of Atlanta, is making masks optional for now, and Sara Holton Gard fears that could leave her family caught in the middle. “I’m confident in her wearing a mask at school,” Holton Gard says of her daughter. “But I don’t have confidence that the rest of the kids will. And that makes me very nervous … “I worry that she’s going to get into school, come home one day and say nobody’s wearing their masks and I’m going to say then I have to pull you out of school.” That would mean Holton Gard’s husband would have to drop out of the workforce to help handle schooling duties again, similar to last year, a situation she called “unsustainable.” Having parents decide, albeit with a “strong recommendation” for masks from Gwinnett, is one of a patchwork of school mask policies taking shape across the nation that are already confusing and upsetting families and staff as the school year approaches. The district believes its approach is “the best way to handle things at this particular time,” said Bernard Watson, director of community and media relations for Gwinnett County Public Schools, which is the state’s largest school district. “We understand that people are concerned about this virus and (it) is causing tremendous harm and pain across this nation for the last couple of years,” he said. “So again, we are encouraging everyone who is who’s eligible for the vaccine to get vaccinated. And we’re encouraging people to wear masks, we’re recommending strongly recommending that people wear masks when they come into our buildings.” While Holton Gard appreciates that recommendation, she believes it doesn’t go far enough and will create problems at school.

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