CDC: Masks remain vital despite vaccines, mandate bans
Students and staff should continue to wear masks until all children are vaccinated as research shows reduced incidence in elementary schools where teachers still wear face coverings.
With states and districts ending mask mandates, new CDC research has found the rate of COVID is 37% lower in Georgia elementary schools where teachers still wear face coverings.
And in schools where administrators upgraded ventilation systems with filtration and dilution methods, the rate was 39% lower, according to the study, which was conducted at the end of 2020.
“Mask requirements for teachers and staff members and improved ventilation are important strategies in addition to vaccination of teachers and staff members that elementary schools could implement as part of a multicomponent approach to provide safer, in-person learning environments,” the authors of the study wrote.
Masks will remain a key tool to block COVID tool until vaccines are approved for children younger than 12, the CDC says.
Across the country, some administrators are reinforcing masks mandates while district leaders and lawmakers elsewhere drop the requirement.
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said masks will be required indoors and outside for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, Local10.com reported.
Carvalho also said he excepted masks will be optional in 2021-22. “The light at the end of the tunnel is bright and it continues to get brighter,” he said, according to Local10.com.
And while Virginia schools will require masks indoors for the rest of the year, Iowa and Texas have prohibited schools from mandating masks.
School mask tracker: Who is and isn’t loosening the rules
And in Montana, Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Elsie Arntzen faced pushback from pediatricians after he encouraged superintendents to lift their masks mandates, NBC Montana reported.
The Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged Gov. Greg Gianforte to require masks until all children are eligible for vaccinations, according to NBC Montana.
“We believe that increasing vaccination rates among our children will decrease COVID-19 and allow them to remain in school, while removing the mask mandates in school will have the opposite effect,” the pediatricians wrote in a letter to the governor. If our goal is to improve the mental and physical health of our children, let us encourage vaccination while maintaining mask use in schools.”