News stories about 800 Georgia students quarantined due to lack of mask requirements in school district disregards the fact that the vast majority of the students would have been quarantined even if they had been wearing "face coverings."
A news article released by NBC News, and mirrored by several other news platforms, highlights the fact that "Coronavirus cases lead over 800 to quarantine in Georgia school district where masks not required."
The article talks about Cherokee County School District, which drew attention last week when students without masks posed for a group photo. This news article, and similar posts on social media, are somewhat misleading. Under Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Department of Public Health Guidelines - which local school districts, including Stephens County School Districts have based their local guidelines - 99% of these children would have been quarantined even if the school had instituted a mask mandate.
According to the Decision Guide published by the GDOE, students and staff who are exposed to an individual will have to quarantine for 14 days "unless they are wearing approved PPE." the Decision Guide also specifies that "cloth face coverings are not considered approved PPE."
This specification will be applicable to the Stephens County guidelines, also.
Under the Stephens County guidelines, there are two possible outcomes when a person who is exposed to a confirmed COVID case
A) if the exposed person was wearing approved PPE at the time of the exposure, they will be allowed to return to class/work, but should wear a face mask and monitor symptoms.
B) If the exposed person was Not wearing approved PPE at the time of exposure, they will be required to quarantine at home for 14 days.
Adhering to the Georgia DOE guidelines, cloth face coverings do not qualify as approved PPE in the above scenario under the Stephens County School System guidelines, Stephens County School Superintendent Daniel Oldham confirmed to ConnectLocal.