Where vaccinated students will still wear masks in school

California mandates masks because social distancing is not possible in its schools
By: | July 13, 2021
Not all states and districts will allow fully vaccinated students and teachers to stop wearing masks in the 2021-22 school year.Not all states and districts will allow fully vaccinated students and teachers to stop wearing masks in the 2021-22 school year.

California will require all students to wear masks despite new CDC guidance suggesting fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear face coverings in school.

That’s because school facilities cannot accommodate the CDC’s recommendation to continue three feet of social distancing with all students returning to in-person learning, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said on the agency’s website.

Masks will also prevent a divide from emerging between students who have and haven’t been vaccinated, Ghaly said.

“Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction,” Ghaly said. “At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinated – treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”

California schools will also continue to offer free COVID testing.

“We are grateful now to learn that we won’t have to worry about physical distancing requirements when we return to our campuses this fall if consistent masking guidelines for all ages are followed,” Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino said. “We feel that this is a small and worthy sacrifice if it means we can get all our kids back together, inside the classroom, and in front of a caring adult.”

Students in New York City’s public schools also are still required to wear masks though that could change in the fall, Mayor Bill De Blasio said Monday, according to Chalkbeat

“I’m absolutely confident based on this guidance and everything else we’ve seen that we’ll be able to get all our kids back into school in September, but for now [we’re] sticking with the idea that, you know, wearing the masks is a smart thing to do in schools,” de Blasio told reporters, according to Chalkbeat. “We’ll keep assessing as we go along, but I think for now it still makes sense.”

Focus on vaccinations

The state of Illinois, on the other hand, announced it will follow the CDC’s new guidance and not require fully vaccinated teachers or students to wear masks in schools.

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“Our goal is to protect the health of students, teachers, and staff so that in-person learning can resume as safely as possible,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “The CDC is right: vaccination is the best preventive strategy. As school board members, parents, teachers and superintendents plan for a return to in-person learning in the fall, we strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to continue to mask.”

Jefferson County Public Schools, the largest district in Kentucky, announced it will also follow the new CDC guidelines.

“As a result of this new recommendation and expected guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, students and staff who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask inside JCPS property beginning Monday, July 12th. Masks are not required while outside on JCPS property,” district officials said.

‘Least invasive strategy’

This spring, many states prohibited mask mandates. Still, many districts decided to continue to require masks in the 2021-22 school year even before the CDC issued its updated guidance last Friday.

Masks will remain a way of life in City Schools of Decatur near Atlanta. The district saw strong masking compliance among students last school year,  Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said at a town hall meeting, according to decaturish.com.

“It’s the least invasive strategy and it’s kind of a no-brainer for me,” Fehrman said, according to the website. “If we can help prevent the spread of COVID by wearing masks, and not just COVID but other airborne diseases, let’s do that, at least for the start of the school year and see how things go.”

Fehrman believes his district is the only one in the Atlanta area that will continue its mask mandate, the website reported.

Westbrook Public Schools in Connecticut reached the same decision in June.