ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools will implement a “universal mask wearing” policy in all of its school buildings when the new school year starts Aug. 5, the district announced Thursday.

In a statement, the school system cited the dangers of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Just 18% of eligible students in the Atlanta school system are fully vaccinated and 58% of its employees have said they are either fully vaccinated or plan to be, officials said.

The school system noted that the pediatrics academy recommends that all students and staff wear masks - regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated. It also mentioned the federal Centers for Disease Control in announcing the mask mandate.

“Given our low vaccination rates and increasing community spread, the CDC acknowledges that universal masking would be appropriate,” the school system said in the statement.

About 50,000 students attend Atlanta Public Schools.

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