The majority of the country’s schools and day cares are preparing to reopen this autumn to get fully in-house schooling and care, if they haven’t done so already.
However, will children and teachers need to wear masks, today that many more adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and lots of kids ages 12 and over are too? For that matter, can teachers and kids be required to get the vaccine?
We rounded up the basic principles around masks, social distancing and vaccinations. Details can vary significantly between districts and states, and also the guidelines are shifting, but here’s what we know right now
Will children need to wear masks in school?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t updated its mask advice for schools for collapse 2021. For now, it recommends schools continue to require”universal and proper use of masks” — rigorously translated, this implies also about the playground — by the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
But with national guidance slow to change, states and districts are already making decisions about in-school protocols on their own – which means policies vary widely depending on where families live.
In Massachusetts, physical distancing can end when schools fully reopen this fall, but state officials said they haven’t decided what to do about mask requirements, such as for elementary students. In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan recently said children should not have to wear masks or socially distance in schools this fall, because the state’s virus positivity rates have dropped below 1%.
Before vaccinations became widespread, health measures for the blanket population were easy to apply to everyone, said Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“Any situation for schools is now in the context of adult populations being vaccinated,” she said.