Masks are back at some schools. How bad will COVID politics get?

KN95 masks were handed out and will be required for 10 days after at least three people at Rosemary Hills Elementary School in Maryland tested positive for COVID-19.

A Maryland elementary school’s mask mandate for a single class is setting off alarm bells—but the distress is more about COVID politics than the spread of infection.

KN95 masks were handed out and will be required for 10 days after at least three people at Rosemary Hills Elementary School in Montgomery County tested positive for COVID-19, WTOP reported. The decision, announced by the school’s principal on Tuesday, sparked anger online from far beyond the school community. The mini-mandate even drew the attention of Donald Trump Jr., who posted on X (formerly known as Twitter): “DO NOT COMPLY!!!”

While Rosemary Hills appears to be the only school mandating masks this week, other districts are urging students and staff to take precautions as COVID cases rise. Talladega City Schools in Alabama posted a flyer to its Facebook page last week, urging the use of masks. “Please note this is not a mask mandate, but a general encouragement to be more conscious of our health,” the district noted on its Facebook post.

A middle school in Alabama’s Sumter County School District has been asking people to mask up since earlier this summer. “Due to the slow rise of Covid cases in the area, students, employees, and visitors are asked to wear facial masks starting Tuesday, August 22, 2023,” Kinterbish Junior High School wrote on Facebook.

New York on Tuesday began making rapid COVID test kits and masks available to school districts and educational co-ops in the wake of rising hospitalizations in the state.

COVID politics and school closures

A handful of districts have gone remote in recent weeks after experiencing COVID outbreaks. Butner Public Schools in Oklahoma was closed for virtual learning for two days last week after “the number of students & staff with confirmed COVID have reached a number where the safety of our students and staff is our most important concern,” the district said on its Facebook page.

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Several districts in Kentucky closed temporarily late last month.

But state officials elsewhere are vowing never to return to mask mandates or school closures. Also on X, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said her state will “never lockdown.” That means schools will not close nor will masks or vaccinations be required. Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also boasted in recent days that mask mandates are banned in his state.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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