Sunday schools

New data: 27 states drop universal masking at school, accounting for 51% of U.S. students

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As debates over masks in schools are reaching a climax – with Texas, Iowa and Utah at the end of last week, outright banning face-covering warrants – more than half of all U.S. students now attend school in states that don’t require universal in-class masking.

Four states have moved to a vaccine quota policy in which individuals can only go without a mask if they have been immunized, 17 states have lifted mask mandates but allow local districts to set their own policies, and six states have explicitly prohibits masking requirements.

Meanwhile, 23 states, representing 49% of U.S. learners, have maintained their requirement that all students and staff wear face coverings in school.

Twenty-seven states no longer require universal masking in schools, which represents 51% of American students. (Burbio)

the new numbers were published Monday by Burbio, a website that has tracked policies to reopen schools throughout the pandemic. With the exception of a handful of states that have never adopted school mask requirements at any time during the past year, the removal of face covering requirements has come almost exclusively over the course of the past year. the past three weeks, said Burbio co-founder Dennis Roche.

“We have no records on districts saying ‘no need for masks’ [before early May]He told 74.

The drastic move away from universal masking in schools reflects broader changes across the country as neighbors, retail outlets, community organizations and many more. struggle to navigate updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In mid-May, the federal agency revised its recommendations, stating that vaccinated people may forgo masks in most indoor settings.

Recent moves to remove face coverings in schools, however, run counter to guidelines from the CDC, which clarified that universal masking and physical distancing are still recommended in schools, even for vaccinated teachers and students.

“Our school orientation to finish the school year will not change,” CDC director Dr Rochelle P. Walensky said on Fox News Sunday, adding that the federal agency will work this summer to update its COVID-19 school safety recommendations before fall.

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While 130 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including more than 2 million educators, young people aged 12 to 15 only recently received authorization for vaccines, and younger students are unlikely to qualify until the end of the year.

Some 600,000 young people aged 12 to 15 were vaccinated last week after being allowed to be vaccinated the previous Wednesday. And overall, more than 4 million young Americans under the age of 17 have been vaccinated, nowadays.

But while the race is on to immunize young people, the vast majority have yet to receive vaccines. While 12 to 15 year olds represent 5% of the total population, they constitute only 0.9 percent of people who received at least one dose of the vaccine. Young people aged 16 and 17, who have had access to vaccines for longer, represent 2.5% of the total population, but only 1.6% of those vaccinated. Many parents across the country remain reluctant to immunize their children, especially younger ones, with only 30 percent said they would allow their children to get the vaccine right away.

This means that schools, at least for now, continue to serve a large percentage of students not immune to COVID-19.

In light of still low youth immunization rates, steps states took last week to drop masks in schools prompted Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.7 million members, to be sent on May 20 letter to Walensky and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to seek clarification and advice on 10 separate points related to COVID-19 school safety protocols for the next school year.

“For those responsible for the well-being of children – and those already navigating other aspects of recovery from this pandemic, including its effects on mental health, school readiness and social well-being and emotional – any change or ambiguity in direction triggers a significant impact on classroom planning and management, ”Weingarten writes.

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On the other side of the question, some parents have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to send their children to faceless school.

Teresa Ridenhour, a mother of two from Dripping Springs, Texas, 20 miles from Austin, told CNN that her children jumped for joy when they learned that schools in Lone Star State would no longer need to cover their faces.

“I think we’re at a point in this pandemic where everyone has to take control of their own health,” Ridenhour said.

Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that wearing a mask is an effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus. A study released by the CDC on Friday found that infection rates were 37% less in schools where teachers and staff were required to wear masks (although the results are not statistically significant due to the large variation). Better ventilation was also associated with significant reductions in the number of cases.

Unlike states that have removed mask warrants, New York City, the nation’s largest school district, announced Monday that all learners would return to school in person next fall wearing face covers and following other COVID-19 safety protocols.

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The decision, of a city that voted overwhelming Democratic majority in the 2020 presidential election, represents a political divide in the masking policy which, in recent weeks, has only deepened.

“It has happened time and time again that there is this division in responses to COVID… [that] is strongly correlated with the politics of the region, ”Jon Valant, senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, told 74 last week. “The latest case could be these school masking rules.”

As schools returned last fall, Valant’s research found that district decisions whether or not to open their doors to students for in-person learning were not predicted by the rates of the coronavirus spreading in the community. , But by the share of residents who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Strikingly similar to the 2020 electoral maps, the states that maintained their school mask mandates are clustered on the West Coast, Northeast, and the Great Lakes region. New Hampshire, whose motto is “Live free or die,” is the only state in New England to leave the decision to hide to local authorities, while West Virginia, a first leader in vaccine deployment, has chosen to subordinate the masking rules to the vaccination status.

Four of the six states that outright ban mask mandates – Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and South Carolina – are in the conservative and heavily Republican South. And while Mississippi and Kentucky have yet to announce changes to the classroom face coverage policy this year, each state’s governor has Express plans to abandon the masks in the fall.

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