Lee County Schools announced plans to begin requiring masks at its schools after two weeks of having an optional mask-wearing policy, according to an announcement from the school system Friday.
In a video announcement, Superintendent James E. "Mac" McCoy said the school system recorded 105 positive COVID-19 cases after the first week of school and 88 more positive cases during the first two days of the second week.
“The primary goal of our school system is to educate children in the safest environment we can provide,” the superintendent said. “We must be open in order to provide the best quality education. In an effort to remain open for in-person learning, at this time we must add an additional, specific mitigation strategy.”
Beginning Monday, masks or facial recoverings will be required for all individuals, including students, visitors and faculty, while inside Lee County Schools facilities until further notice is given.
In his statement, McCoy said the school system would continue to monitor local data provided by the East Alabama Medical Center, guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control in order to guide their next steps.
The decision comes after the school system previously announced that masks would be strongly encouraged but optional for students and employees while the system implemented other COVID-19 mitigation strategies like physical distancing, improved ventilation systems and frequent disinfecting measures in buildings.