Faculties resolve what the brand new CDC masks tips imply for the classroom: NPR

A girl in Jersey City wore a mask at her pre-K graduation almost a year ago. Now schools are deciding how looser CDC guidelines on masks will affect education. Seth Wenig / AP Hide caption

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Seth Wenig / AP

A girl in Jersey City wore a mask at her pre-K graduation almost a year ago. Now schools are deciding how looser CDC guidelines on masks will affect education.

Seth Wenig / AP

This week brought some dizzying updates to the year-long history of the school opening.

Surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their COVID-19 safety guidelines, telling those fully vaccinated that, with a few exceptions, they can now congregate both indoors and outdoors without face masks or social distancing. The announcement came just a day after the CDC also gave children ages 12-15 the go-ahead to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

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What does all this mean for schools? It’s complicated.

The vaccination upgrade is certainly good news for families and school leaders who want their middle schools to fully reopen. It is unlikely to have much of an impact on many districts’ plans for the remainder of the school year, as children who receive their first shot will not be considered “fully” vaccinated for another five weeks, but it will certainly make classrooms easier in the fall fully open again when many students return vaccinated.

However, it is worth noting that allowing younger children to be vaccinated does not guarantee that they will be vaccinated. Recent surveys by the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found that the families of early adolescents are very hesitant about vaccines. Almost a quarter said they definitely wouldn’t vaccinate their children, while a quarter remained undecided. Another 18% said they would allow their child to be vaccinated if the schools required it, and only 30% of caregivers said their children would get the shot ASAP.

To reassure anxious families, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement recommending COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 12 and older, assessed through a long, rigorous, and transparent process. ”

Regarding the CDC’s revision of the masking rules, it is unclear what impact this will have on teachers, staff and students in the near future. Although the CDC has not yet revised its safety guidelines for K-12 schools, at least one district acted quickly on Thursday to announce changes to its own safety guidelines for schools.

“In accordance with the new [CDC] Cobb Schools guidelines eliminate the need for fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask, “wrote Chris Ragsdale, the school principal in Cobb County, Ga.” I also want to make it clear that any person would like to continue wearing a mask while visiting school and / or school events should feel free to do so. “

In many places where mask wearing has become unpopular, families and political leaders want children to learn without a mask – regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday that he believed that children in classrooms should not be masked, vaccinated, or vaccinated.

“These children don’t have to wear these masks,” DeSantis said, although masking is a key strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools, according to the CDC. On Thursday, the Palm Beach County Schools announced to families that masks would be optional at the beginning of the next school year.

In some states, masks are already optional in schools.

“Whether or not a child wears a mask at school is a decision that should only be left to the parents of a student,” said Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina earlier this week when he passed an executive order that allowed parents to to exclude their children from school mask requirements.

The move was condemned by the Palmetto State Teachers Association. In a statement, the group said: “Many families and employees no longer have a choice for face-to-face learning if they are willing to follow clear directions from our health authorities.”

In several Utah districts, parents can now easily sign a form to exempt their children from school face mask requirements. And on Thursday, the Utah governor announced a controversial move to end a nationwide mask mandate in schools for the final week of the school year.

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