Benjamin Russell High School

File / The Outlook

Masks will be optional for Alexander City students heading to class Monday morning for the first time this schoolyear.

Alexander City Schools (ACS) superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford sent the announcement in a letter Friday afternoon.

"After consulting with medical professionals, school leaders and the Board of Education, ACS has made the decision to relax the requirements for facial masks in schools," Lankford said.

The decision is effective Saturday, May 1 and applies to all grade levels and ACS employees. However, Lankford stopped short of saying they were completely unnecessary.

"All school employees and students are encouraged to continue wearing facial coverings, especially in closed spaces and when appropriate distancing is not possible," he said.

Last month, ACS opted to continue its mask mandate despite Gov. Kay Ivey's lifting of the statewide mask order April 9 but planned to be "mask-less by May," depending on the latest COVID-19 data.

At present, five Benjamin Russell High School students are in isolation for COVID-19, with another 30 students in quarantine. Three Jim Pearson students are also in quarantine for COVID-19 exposure. No employees are currently COVID-positive or in quarantine across all schools.

Despite the relaxation, indoor activities will remain at 75% capacity. Masks are still required for large indoor gatherings and events.

Tallapoosa County Schools has yet to announce an end to its indoor mask mandate, though masks are optional outdoors.