masks in schools fall 2021
cdc masks in schools
Lee County School District requires masks for students, parents can opt their kids out
Just two days out from the first day of school and the Lee County School District has updated its mask policy.
LCSD officials sent an email to parents with an updated face mask policy. Face coverings are required for students unless a parent ops their student out of the requirement, citing the Parents’ Bill of Rights to “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
The district will send out a form to parents tomorrow night that will let them opt their student out of the mask requirement.
Schools Reopen to Mask Confusion
The rise of Covid-19’s Delta variant prompted a back-to-school scramble to reconsider mask policies
When students in California and Illinois head back to school in a few weeks, they will have to wear masks. Florida and Arizona, meanwhile, banned mask requirements in schools. Some, but not all, districts there are insisting on them anyway.
Local school leaders in Georgia can make their own choices about masking, and policies differ from one district to the next.
School officials in Gwinnett County, outside Atlanta, imposed a mask mandate eight days before the new school year started last month—a sudden reversal that caught some parents off-guard.
“It has created quite a bit of chaos within a lot of families,” said Gwinnett County parent Michael Rudnick, who formed a group fighting the mandate.
Schools are reopening just as the rise of the more contagious Delta variant shifts the fight against Covid-19.
Masks are back on top of the policy agenda. And confusion reigns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance in July recommending that students and faculty wear masks in school buildings. But the federal government doesn’t require it, leaving the ultimate decisions to states, cities and individual school districts.
Many places are re-evaluating their Covid-19 policies after the CDC’s new guidance. In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he regretted a mask ban he signed into law and called for a special legislative session to reverse it before school starts.
Brandon Ealy and his daughters Reese, 7, in pink, and Rhyan, 10, in front of their home in Duluth, Georgia. Mr. Ealy supports his school district’s mask mandate.
The CDC recommends the use of masks indoors for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. It also recommends that children receive full-time, in-person learning this fall with prevention strategies in place, including social distancing.
Some 56 million students are coming back after last year’s disruptions hurt their academic performance, mental health and social development. Some districts are still raw from battles with parents and teachers’ unions. Many are craving normality, yet without risking outbreaks, shutdowns and quarantines.
“I need for the schools to be open five days a week,” Trent North, superintendent of a 26,000-student district west of Atlanta, said at a recent school board meeting. “I don’t want to have to close a school. But more importantly, I don’t want to lose a student under my watch.”
His school board decided to reimpose a mask mandate two days before students returned to school on Aug. 4 after a surge of cases in the area. The decision divided parents.
Mr. North said he understood masks were not popular with many students and parents. He said he hoped the measure would be temporary, with the goal of getting rid of masks permanently. The school system allows mask breaks for in-person students during the day and offers an online learning option.
Schools and parents pressing for mandates say the rise of Delta makes masks necessary to help prevent outbreaks at school and help keep children safe, especially those under 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccines. Those opposed to mask mandates say parents have the right to decide for their own children what is best, and that masks inhibit social engagement. They cite studies showing Covid-19 hasn’t impacted children severely.
In Florida, some districts have instituted masking requirements despite an executive order from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis banning such mandates in schools. On Friday, the Florida Board of Education issued an emergency order that lets parents transfer their children to another school if the student has been subjected to harassment for choosing not to wear a mask at a school.
The Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona defied a statewide ban on mask mandates when it started classes last week. The district’s superintendent said he would enforce the mandate as long as it is recommended by health agencies.
In California, the Orange County Board of Education said it plans a lawsuit to free itself from the statewide mask requirement. The board said the mandate violates constitutional law and “compounds harm to California’s children previously caused by prior closures and unwarranted masking requirements.”
Since the virus first emerged in the U.S., four million children under the age of 18 have been infected, and 300 have died of the disease. More than 16,000 have been hospitalized. Children are at significantly lower risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, studies have shown, though most of those studies were done before Delta became dominant in the U.S.
Some hospitals in parts of the country hard hit by the Delta variant, such as Florida and Louisiana, have said more children are ending up in their care, though it is unclear if the Delta variant is more dangerous for them, health officials have said.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that Delta’s rapid spread could explain rising cases among groups less likely to fall sick.
Masks are effective in keeping the virus from spreading to other children and adults, said Keri Althoff, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Althoff said masks are useful for containing the Delta variant and are especially effective in school settings when used with other measures, including vaccinations and being outside when possible.
Dr. Althoff said multiple studies have shown students struggle in remote classes, but little research shows the impact of masks on learning and social development. “This is a balancing act,” she said.
Many opposed to mask requirements cite inconsistent direction from the CDC on the issue. The World Health Organization and UNICEF said last August the decision to use masks for children age 6 to 11 should take a number of factors into account, including the whether there is widespread transmission where the child lives, and the “potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development.”
Children 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated and clinical trials are under way on their effects on younger children. Roughly 7.7 million children between ages 12 and 17 were fully vaccinated by Aug. 4, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Georgia, where school has already started, the number of new Covid-19 cases dropped from January to June. In July, the state, as well as Gwinnett and other counties in metro Atlanta, saw a spike, primarily driven by Delta, health officials said. The rates of Covid-19 infection and hospitalization for children and young adults in Georgia have risen since June.
In Gwinnett County, school officials said the new mask requirement is widely supported by parents.
On Wednesday, the first day of school at Chesney Elementary School in Gwinnett County, all the students and staffers wore masks as they chatted and attended classes in bright rooms. Many kindergartners and first-grade students brought their own masks and wore them as they formed lines in hallways and filed into classrooms.
School officials had masks on hand for anyone who forgot and staffers gently reminded students to wear them properly.
“If everybody has a mask on, then we can at least have some level of assurance everybody’s on the same playing field,” said Brandon Ealy, who has two children that attend Chesney.
Brenda Stewart said she would keep her 9-year-old daughter, Drue, home from the first day at Level Creek Elementary School on Monday and plans instead to home-school her. Ms. Stewart said she believes masks inhibit learning by making it difficult for students and teachers to speak and be understood. She said she believes cloth masks do little to stop the virus.
“I need to make my own choices for what’s best for my child,” she said.
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The School District of Lee County to require masks this school year, Collier schools keep masks optional
The School District of Lee County announced Sunday via an email to parents that it will be requiring masks for the 2021-2022 school year.
The district says it will respect the rights of parents to make health decisions for their children by allowing them to opt out of wearing a face covering.
SDLC says it came to this decision after the Florida Department of Health said that the COVID-19 positivity rate in Lee County between July 30 and August 5 was 20.8%.
The district also says they will be in compliance with Governor DeSantis’ executive order which “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
This email meant different things to different Lee County parents. Vasha Tolbert is one of them. “My first reaction was I was thrilled honestly and I believe that the school district should be commended,” Tolbert said.
Angie Salender is another Lee County parent and says the district shouldn’t pull this so close to school starting. “My jaw just dropped. I was stunned,” Salender said.
School Board Policy grants the Superintendent the authority to implement emergency use of PPE within the district.
SDLC says the opt out form will available online on Monday, August 9 and Salender says she’ll fill it out for her high school-aged daughter. She is upset that the form won’t be available until the day before school begins, however.
“There’s probably no way they’re gonna have a record of every student who is opting out of this. So then where does it leave the parents?” Salender said. ” I mean, they are just sneakily violating the governor’s orders what they’re doing.”
The district also allows for parents to escort their children to class on the first day of school, said Rob Spicker who is the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the district.
You can read the full press release below:
Per the Florida Department of Health, the COVID-19 positivity rate in Lee County for the week of July 30 – August 5 is 20.8% which puts us in an area of high transmission per the Centers for Disease Control.
Therefore, The School District of Lee County will require face coverings as a mitigation measure as we begin the 21-22 school year, while respecting parents’ fundamental rights to direct the health care decisions of their child, by allowing them to opt their child out of wearing a face covering or mask.
Our decision is based on the following factors:
The State Surgeon General’s Emergency Order which states that “Students may wear masks or facial coverings as a mitigation measure; however, the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”
The Governor’s Executive Order which directs that any actions taken by school districts comply with the Parents’ Bill of Rights to “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which “recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which “recommends that all students older than two (2) years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use)”; and
Board Policy 1.181 which grants the Superintendent the authority to implement emergency Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use in the District and allows him to provide guidelines for same.
We have also heard the concerns raised by parents and stakeholders, both those who support and oppose a mask requirement. We believe that requiring masks with an opt-out, ensures that we are doing all we can to keep our students and employees safe, while supporting our community’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and respecting the fundamental rights of parents to direct the health care of their children.
Parents who do not want their child to wear a mask should fill out the School District’s Mask Opt-Out form which will be available tomorrow evening. We will send a link to families then.
In addition, at this time, we are strongly encouraging all staff to wear masks to help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
This requirement will be in place through September 10, 2021 in order to give us time to track and evaluate community spread in Lee County. We will continue to work with our health partners to monitor the conditions in our community at that time to make further decisions.
Finally, we have updated other health and safety protocols for the 21-22 school year. All of the guidance can be found on our website.
The School District of Lee County
In Collier County, the district says it will continue to keep masks optional in order to comply with DeSantis’ executive order.
But they did send out an email to parents as well and it had doctors pleading with parents to get their children to wear masks.
Pia Myers is a pediatric ER Director at NCH. “It is incredibly contagious and our children are getting sick,” said Dr. Myers.
Dr. Benjamin Abo is and EMS and Emergency Physician at NCH. “If things are not reinforced, so that people are being vaccinated and masking and practicing appropriately what they’re supposed to, I am extremely fearful and tearful for the upcoming weeks,” said Dr. Abo.
Tolbert says she hears the doctors loud and clear. Her daughter Charlie will be masking up and she hopes other parents will do the same for their kids.
“I believe that it’s deeper than a mask. We’re teaching our children, the minors that you know, do unto others as you will want others to do unto you and it starts with these simple protocols, just respecting each other’s boundaries, keeping your mask on at all times, social distancing,” Tolbert said.
Troup County Schools requiring students, staff to mask up as they return to school
The Troup County School System has announced ahead of their students returning to school Aug. 9, a requirement that they all be masked while in class.
Among the requirements:
Masks are mandatory for all students and staff while in Troup County schools and buildings regardless of vaccination status.
Masks will be required on all school buses in accordance with the CDC Guidelines. Buses will continue to be sanitized daily.
Water filling stations will be installed in all schools. Water fountains will remain off. Students are encouraged to bring water bottles for refilling
School buildings will be sanitized and cleaned daily.
Temperatures of students and staff will be required when entering a TCSS building.
Ten other school districts in the metro area are requiring students and others to wear masks indoors.
Mask mandates have been a topic of discussion among nearly every school district in Metro Atlanta. The state has left the decision in the hands of each local district and each have made their decision based on the information provided to them.
COVID-19 rates have been skyrocketing in Georgia over the past couple of weeks as the delta variant has become the predominate issue for most people.
Troup County students begin classes on Aug. 9.
Seminole County schools becomes latest district to require students to wear mask, but families can opt out
On Saturday, Seminole County Public Schools announced that all students will be required to wear a mask when school starts on Tuesday, August 10.
The new policy comes a day after Orange County Schools announced the same rule.
Just like Orange County, Seminole schools said students do not have to wear a mask if their parents send in a signed note.
In a statement, Seminole County Schools Superintendent Serita Beamon said the new mask rule will be in place for 30 days and the district will work with the health department and local experts to figure out if it will remain in place before the month is up.
Watch parents’ reaction to the new mask rule in the video above.
Mask mandates in schools draw support, ire of parents
Alabama students are returning to classrooms this month with local school systems split on whether masks will be required.
Mask mandates in local K-12 schools have drawn a mix of support from parents who see it as the best way to protect unvaccinated children against COVID-19 and anger from those who see it as infringement on personal decision.
The Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending schools require masks amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Alabama is leaving the decision to local school systems, instead of requiring – or forbidding – mask mandates as some states have done.
Parents divided on masking policy in school district in Jefferson County
Tracy Brenning has children in the Fox School District and said she’s been waiting all summer to find out if masks will be mandatory. Late last week, the school district announced its COVID Mitigation Policy, encouraging students to wear masks, but not making them mandatory. Brenning said she was instantly relieved.
“I was excited and just so thankful, my son was thankful, my 9-year-old gave a breath of fresh air saying, ‘I’m so thankful mom,” Brenning said.
A number of school districts have released mask guidelines in the last few weeks. The new policies are getting mixed reaction from parents. Marissa Barna also has students in the Fox School District and believes the new mask policy is harmful.
“My kids are wearing masks to reduce the transmission, but if the positive person isn’t wearing a mask, my children are still at-risk and so obviously, we would like to reduce that risk,” Barna said.
Several petitions circulating on social media are calling on the Wentzville, Fort Zumwalt and Fox School Districts to change their policies to make masks mandatory.
“My child maybe sitting there in a mask all day long, but might have to quarantine several times in the year because of the unmasked children,” Barna said.
Fresno Unified students get free backpacks, supplies ahead of new school year
The district even provided haircuts to students who needed a new back-to-school hairdo.
Fresno Unified’s parent university is helping families get ready for the upcoming school year.
The district distributed thousands of backpacks to students at McLane High School on Saturday morning.
Fresno Unified parent Brandie Todd was one of the many parents who were grateful to receive the much-needed school supplies.
“It makes a huge difference as far as helping, especially after the last year,” she said.
The district even provided haircuts to students who needed a new back-to-school hairdo.
Staff said after this past year, they knew many parents needed the extra assistance.
“We don’t necessarily always get to see what they’re going through at home but we hear them through the phone calls, we hear them, they’re calling us, they’re reaching out to us on social media, they’re still feeling the after-effects of being out of work, being displaced,” said Zuleica Murillo Fry, executive director of communication and family services.
Fresno Unified will welcome back its students five days a week this coming Thursday, August 12th.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks inside the classroom.