As mandates ease, some schools stick with masks

'If the science suggested it, you can turn your mask guidance on a dime because it's easy,' New Jersey governor says
By: | June 1, 2021
Heading into summer, school masks requirements vary state-by-state, as more governors move to loosen the rules, particularly for outdoor activities and older students.Heading into summer, school masks requirements vary state-by-state, as more governors move to loosen the rules, particularly for outdoor activities and older students.

Georgia just restricted the ability of school leaders to mandate masks while Idaho reversed course and rescinded a ban on K-12 mask requirements that lasted just one day.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order says schools no longer have the authority “to rely on the Public Health State of Emergency as a basis for requiring students or workers to wear a face covering.”

That means Kemp’s order is not an outright ban, only that schools cannot invoke the governor’s authority to require masks, Fox 5 reported.

In response, Atlanta Public Schools said the 11,000 children enrolled in summer schools will have to wear masks, according to Fox 5.

“Eleven thousand kids, they’re returning to campus, some of whom are returning for the first time since March of 2020, so we want to make sure those students are protected; they have not been able to get vaccinated yet. So, we’re going to continue things like the masking requirement, surveillance testing, and encouraging the vaccine for those who are eligible,” school board Chairman Jason Esteves told Fox 5.

It’s a different story in Idaho. Gov. Brad Little on Friday repealed a mask mandate ban that had been enacted the day before, while he was out of state, by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.

In his executive order, Little said he opposed mandates but that the state should not usurp the authority of local school boards to require masks if, for instance, there is a local COVID surge.

“Just like the states begrudge federal government mandates, local governments in Idaho resent the state doing the same thing,” Little said in his order.


School mask tracker: Who is and isn’t loosening the rules


In fact, schools in Couer D’Alene have reinstated mask requirements as they grapple with COVID outbreaks, The Spokesman-Review reported.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy eased off a bit on his statement that all students would have to wear masks in the fall. Last week, he said school mask mandates could first be relaxed in high schools as older students get vaccinated, NorthJersey.com reported.

“If the science suggested it, you can turn your mask guidance on a dime because it’s easy,” Murphy said at a briefing covered by North Jersey.com. “You just don’t wear this the next day. So stay tuned.”

In one of the nation’s largest district, Miami-Dade County Public Schools administrators is allowing principals to let students ditch masks during outdoor activities, Local10.com reported.

And finally, in New Mexico, a group called NM Stands Up! has sent a cease-and-desist letter urging the state department of health to begin ending school masking requirements, particularly for athletes, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.

“New Mexico children are suffering serious effects from masks, including blackouts, vomiting, breathing problems, dizziness, disorientation, nosebleeds, learning problems and other health problems as a result of your mask mandates,” the letter says, according to the Sun News.

But the New Mexico Activities Association Executive has not received any such reports, Director Sally Marquez told the Sun News.