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

Facing pushback from parents, a small but growing number of districts are loosening or dropping mask requirements
By: | May 7, 2021
In many parts of the country, parents have rallied and even disrupted school board meetings to demand that school leaders let families choose whether students wear a mask.In many parts of the country, parents have rallied and even disrupted school board meetings to demand that school leaders let families choose whether students wear a mask.

As states lift mask mandates, and the CDC even loosens some of its guidance for wearing them outdoors, some schools are also lifting face-covering requirements for staff and students.

In many parts of the country, parents have rallied and even disrupted school board meetings to demand that school leaders let families choose whether students wear a mask.

Here’s a state-by-state roundup of what we could find out about who is—and isn’t—dropping mask requirements:

ALABAMA: Districts in Shelby County, Washington County and Pell City have all made masks optional, reported.

ARIZONA: About 100 parents demanding an end to the mask requirement interrupted a Vail School District board meeting this week, KGUN-TV reported.

ARKANSAS:  Face masks are now optional for students in the Siloam Springs School District, the Siloam Springs Herald-Leader reported.

FLORIDA: An 8-year-old Seminole County Public Schools student has gathered 400 signatures on a petition asking the district to make masks optional, Fox 35 reported.

GEORGIA: “The mask is moving from mandatory to optional for our staff members,” Effingham County School District Superintendent Yancy Ford told WTOC 11.

KANSAS: Students and staff in Hays USD 489 no longer have to wear masks at their desks, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. They will have to wear masks when in food lines, entering school buildings and congregating in hallways. The district will also stop taking students’ temperatures each morning.

LOUISIANA: The state lifted its mask mandate this week, but the requirement for schools remains in placeThe Advocate reported.

MAINE: The state has announced that high school athletes no longer have to wear masks during outdoor activitiesBangor Daily News reported.

NEBRASKA: Earlier this month, Beatrice Public Schools made masks optional for students and staff, the Lincoln Daily Star reported.

“If a student tests positive and is not wearing a mask, and comes into contact with other students that are not wearing masks, then that contact tracing will be in effect, and then quarantine orders will be in place,” Superintendent Jason Alexander said, according to the newspaper.

NORTH CAROLINA: High school athletes can take off their masks during outdoor games and practices, The Charlotte Observer reported.

NORTH DAKOTA: Mandan Public Schools now recommends but does not require masks, KX News reported.

OHIO: Students and staff in Blanchester Local Schools can remove masks when outdoors and on buses with an open window. They will be able to remove masks inside on June 1, WHIO-TV reported.

Only 1.6% of Mandan’s students have contracted the virus. “Obviously this is not something our community is united around one way or the other,” Mandan Superintendent Mike Bitz told the station. “We certainly heard from a lot of individuals encouraging us to make this change.

OKLAHOMA: In Jenks Public Schools, near Tulsa, the mask mandate ends June 1, News on 6 rep[sorted.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Mask requirements will end in the Lexington-Richland 5 school district on May 10, The State reported.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Rapid City Area Schools announced the students and staff will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks when schools open for in-person instruction, five days a week in the fall, KEVN-TV reported.

TENNESSEE: Students in Sullivan County Schools are no longer required to wear face masks anywhere on school property, reported.

  • In Johnson City Schools, K-4 elementary school students can take off masks when seated at their desks but have them put them back on in common areas, reported.
  • Campbell County Schools and Maryville City Schools are loosening requirements while several other districts in the eastern part of the state are beginning to discuss changes, 10News reported.

TEXAS: The Carroll and Allen ISD schools boards voted to drop their mask mandates on June 1 and July 1, respectively, the Dallas Observer reported.

UTAH: Districts in Kane County, San Juan and Iron County no longer require a doctor’s note from students who don’t want to wear masks, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Now, parents have to sign a form saying the children have a medical condition that makes wearing a mask difficult.

WISCONSIN: In the Shawano School District, masks are no longer required but still highly recommended, reported.

  • Several rural and suburban districts have lifted mask requirements, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The Medford Area Public School District’s board on April 26 made masks optional for all grade levels after a high school walk-0ut. The Cameron, Crandon, Laona and Three Lakes districts have all eased or dropped mask requirements.

WYOMING: Ten Wyoming school districts have dropped face mask requirements in recent weeks, The Casper Star-Tribune reported.

  • Fremont County School District No. 24 made masks optional on April 28 after getting an exemption from the state, SweetwaterNow reported.
  • The Cody School District has also dropped its requirement, the Cody Enterprise reported.