Why students in some districts will still wear masks in the fall

Students in New Jersey and San Francisco may still need masks next school year
By: | May 26, 2021
Mask rules will vary across the country as most districts are preparing for full-time in-person instruction next fall.Mask rules will vary across the country as most districts are preparing for full-time in-person instruction next fall.

As states and districts rush to drop school mask requirements, students in some parts of the country may still be wearing face coverings in the fall.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said masks will remain a part of schooling in the fall because vaccines may still not be approved for children under 12, NJ.com reported.

“We’ll have masking in schools in the fall as a result of that,” Murphy said during an interview on MSNBC, according to NJ.com. “We’ll continue to keep a fair amount of steps we have in place in the fall.”

Murphy also said he expects students to return to in-person instruction full-time in the fall, and his administration will release new school guidance sometime in the coming weeks.

Murphy faced immediate pushback. Toms River Regional Board of Education President Joseph Nardini said his fellow board members and parents in his district oppose the continued mandate, the Asbury Park Press reported.

“The vast majority of our staff have been fully vaccinated, and the risk that Covid-19 poses to our student population—many of whom will also be vaccinated heading into next year—is extremely low, and not inclusive of the more dramatic symptoms and health problems known to affect older adults,” Nardini wrote in a letter to the governor, according to the website.

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San Francisco USD also expects to return to full in-person learning in the fall, with masks but without daily health screenings, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“When you hear that, you should think of pre-pandemic conditions, what school was like in January of 2020,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

In Louisiana, mask mandates will end with the school year, when the decision to require face coverings will be left to school districts, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Tuesday.

“Local governments and businesses may still and should feel empowered to take precautions that they see as necessary and prudent, including mandating masks,” Bel Edwards said in a statement. “To be clear: COVID-19 is not over for our state or for our country.”

Several districts in Florida—including Duval County, Indian River County, and Manatee County—have indicated that masks will not be required next school year.