Number of schools dropping mask mandates grows rapidly

Masks became optional in schools across the Mid-West and Southern states
By: | May 18, 2021

A steady stream of superintendents and school boards are making masks optional even as the CDC urges keeping all COVID precautions in place until the end of the school year.

Mask requirements came to an end over the last several days in several Kansas City, Missouri-area districts, including Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit and Oak Grove.

As of Sunday, masks became optional for staff and students at Oak Grove R-VI School District, administrators announced on Facebook. They noted, however, that the CDC and county health authorities still strongly recommend masks more for students and adults who aren’t vaccinated.

In Lee’s Summit, masks are still required on school buses and the district cautioned the rules could change again if COVID cases spike in the community, KMBC reported.

And in a letter to the community, Blue Springs administrators wrote: “Please keep in mind that although the mask mandate has been lifted, masks are optional. You may decide what is best for your family. As with all things related to COVID-19, this was not an easy decision,” according to KMBC.

In Florida, masks will become optional in Martin County Public Schools on June 1, the superintendent and school board announced. Masks are also optional at high school graduation ceremonies next week.

District officials also encouraged vaccinations as the best way to prevent the spread of COVID.

Masks will also become optional when summer programs start June 14 in The St. Johns County School District, which headquartered in Jacksonsville, Superintendent Tim Forson announced.

Desk shields will no longer be mandatory in classrooms and temperature checks will no longer be a daily routine, Forson said.

Where wearing masks remains the rule

The Iowa Department of Public Health has advised schools to lets parents and students decide whether to wear masks, KCCI reported. Several small districts responded by dropping mask requirements, the Carroll Times Herald reported. 

The Des Moines Public School District, however, will continue to require masks because few students have been vaccinated and the school year ends in three weeks, the station reported.

Still, many large districts have not changed course, at least for the rest of this school year. Though many Tennessee districts have dropped masks, Metro Nashville Public Schools still requires them for staff and students through June summer programs, The Tennessean reported.