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DECATUR, Ala. — Decatur City Schools will move to mandatory masking as the number of positive COVID-19 cases rises in the area.

The mandate will begin on Monday, August 16, 2021.

The school initially opted for a “mask optional” policy, but now will require masks in school facilities and on buses, regardless of vaccination status. The new policy will not impact outdoor activities and documentation of medical exemptions must be provided to the individual school’s principal.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Douglas said there are currently 35 students positive for COVID-19 in the school system. 15 more students were sent home with symptoms and await testing results.

Douglas said this is the first time the numbers have ever doubled. There were 19 cases last Friday, and Douglas said he expects 40-50 positive cases by the end of this week.

In a statement, the school system the policy will be re-evaluated after the Labor Day holiday.