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Gainesville City Schools drops mask requirement
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Gainesville Middle School students practice social distancing while waiting to use the restroom Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, after lunch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Masks will no longer be required at Gainesville City Schools starting Monday, Jan. 24, the school system announced on its social media Friday evening. 

“We continue to see cases outside of school but very few cases spreading from school exposure,” the statement says. “We strongly encourage masks to be worn when social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The district reinstated a mask mandate Jan. 3, a couple of days before the start of the school year, amid a surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the omicron variant. 

In the week ending Jan. 21, there were 60 coronavirus cases, down from 146 in the week before. The system has about 8,000 students.

“Our goal was to return to structured routines after the break,” Superintendent Jeremy Williams wrote in a text message. “We were able to do that successfully. ... We are encouraged by the decrease, but we still recommend masks when unable to physically distance.”