By the end of this week, about half of the country’s more than 50 million public school students will be back in class. But as parents stock up on notebooks and pencils, it is still unclear in much of the country whether they will send their children to school with masks.
In response to delta variant-fueled spikes in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in most states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in late July that all schools require students, teachers and visitors to wear masks.
Since then, state responses to the new guidelines have fluctuated.
As of last week, 10 states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington – and the District of Columbia had adopted the CDC’s recommendations, requiring all students, teachers and visitors wear masks. in public schools.
Thirty-two states have left the thorny mask decision to school districts and parents.
And eight states – Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah – have passed laws or issued executive orders prohibiting school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
Arkansas law was blocked in court last week even as lawmakers considered changing it. And on Monday, two counties in Texas asked a court to issue a temporary restraining order against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask warrants.
Last week, Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey issued new warrants for school masks.
New York kicked off, releasing this declaration from the State Health Commissioner on August 5: “With the end of the state of disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are re-established as the controlling entity of schools. Schools and school districts should make plans to open in person in the safe fall, and I recommend following the advice of the CDC and local health departments. “
Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam highlighted a new law passed by the legislature on July 1, which orders school districts to open in person in the fall and follow CDC guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, effectively requiring schools to impose masks.
Meanwhile, about 11% of the nation’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 students started school on Friday. And in Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Mississippi, more than 80% started school last week. About half of students in Tennessee have returned to school and about a third have started in Indiana, New Mexico and Alabama, according to Burbio, a New York-based research organization that tracks COVID-policies. 19 in schools.