The Georgia Department of Education will receive two million cloth face coverings from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a news release issued on Thursday.

The Department of Education will distribute the washable and reusable cloth face coverings to local school districts, and the districts will provide them to students and teachers for the upcoming academic year.

Cobb County School District will benefit from the mask distribution, according to district spokesperson Nan Kiel. Georgia’s second largest school system has thousands of masks ready to distribute to students and teachers.

“Thanks to programs like the one from GEMA, the District does have more than 100,000 masks available for when public health guidance indicates that it is okay for students to return to face-to-face instruction,” Kiel said in a statement to the MDJ.

Marietta City Schools spokesperson Jen Brock said the district received 9,000 masks from the Georgia Department of Education, and schools also have disposable masks available for when in-person instruction resumes.

“We have purchased a reusable/washable face mask for every staff member (they will be delivered soon) and are providing face shields for each staff member who wanted one,” Brock said in a statement to the MDJ. “Additionally, when we transition to in-person learning, although we encourage families to purchase reusable/washable masks for their students, we have purchased a large supply of disposable masks available for students who do not have one to wear on the bus or in class. These disposable masks will also be given to staff and visitors, as needed.”

State School Superintendent Richard Woods said the two million face coverings will help provide a safe environment for in-person learning.

“As we plan for a return to school this fall, we have worked to provide guidance that is realistic in the K-12 setting, provides for the best possible educational experience for students and — most importantly — keeps students, teachers, staff, and families safe,” Woods said in the news release. “Having access to face coverings is critical as our districts and schools plan for a safe return, and I am grateful for the leadership and partnership of Governor Kemp and GEMA.”

In addition to the two million masks allocated to the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is releasing another million face coverings to 39 county emergency management agencies. According to the news release, masks are being sent to counties “identified by the Department of Public Health as areas where infection rates are rising or there may be increased risk of transmission.”

County officials will distribute masks, “paying special attention to the homeless population and economically challenged areas,” according to the news release.

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