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CDC Says K-12 Students And Teachers Should Wear Masks In School, Regardless Of Vaccine Status

The new guidance comes as Covid-19 cases rise in states across the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is rethinking its Covid-19 guidance for K-12 schools amid a nationwide rise in Covid-19 cases. In fact, today the CDC recommended that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks when indoors regardless of vaccination status. News of the CDC’s latest advice comes less than a month after the agency recommended only unvaccinated K-12 students, teachers, and staff needed to wear masks indoors.

Guidance released by the CDC on July 9 noted, “Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.” While clinical trials on children as young as 6 months old are underway, Covid-19 vaccines are currently only available to adults and children age 12 and up.

Agency officials stressed that mask wearing guidelines should allow schools to return to in-person learning in the fall. In addition to the updated guidance for schools, the CDC recommended that vaccinated people resume wearing masks in public, indoor spaces in parts of the country where the virus is surging.

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The CDC isn’t the only group to recommend all students wear face masks when back in the classroom. Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that all children over the age of 2 wear a face mask when in school regardless of their vaccination status. The AAP also urged all eligible children to receive Covid-19 vaccines ahead of their return to school.

Complicating matters for parents, however, is the fact that some states have barred schools from mandating masks. According to Forbes, at least eight states have passed legislation that prohibits K-12 schools or universities from requiring students or staff wear masks. Those states include Vermont, South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Utah. Additionally, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Arizona, and Utah are reported to have barred schools and universities from requiring Covid-19 vaccines.

When asked Tuesday what parents in states that had barred schools from requiring masks were supposed to do in light of the CDC’s expected guidance, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said all she could do was hope leaders in those states paid attention to the CDC’s new guidance. “This is new guidance that is being issued by the CDC today,” Psaki said. “I don’t know how it will influence local elected officials in these states but I certainly hope for the health and wellbeing of the next generation that they take a close look at the guidance.”

While Covid-19 guidance pertaining to schools could certainly change again and again ahead of the new school year, parents might find it easiest to ensure their child has a supply of face masks ready just in case.