This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DECATUR, Ala. — Masks are now required for everyone inside buildings and buses throughout Decatur City Schools. As of Friday, 35 students were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 15 students were sent home with symptoms.

“To give you some perspective on that, last Christmas when we shut down school, we were at 35 positives so we are already above our highest number that we had all of last year,” said Superintendent Michael Douglas of Decatur City Schools.

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.

Douglas says they are seeing evidence of student-to-student transmission, which is a big reason the school system transitioned to the mask requirement.

Judy Smith with the Alabama Department of Public Health says it was a smart move.

“As a public health professional, masking works,” she said. “If I was a parent sending my child to a school, my child would wear a mask. We would have our discussion at home and my child would wear a mask until things are better.”

“From the very beginning, I told you to be prepared and that we were going to make all our decisions, not based on personal or political opinion, but based on our actual numbers,” said Superintendent Douglas.

The school system says the masking policy will be re-evaluated after the Labor Day holiday.