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School-Mask Mandates Contentious Even After COVID Wanes

School-Mask Mandates Contentious Even After COVID Wanes
Masked students receive an in-person lesson at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on Jan. 5, 2022, in New York City. (Michael Loccisano/Getty)

By    |   Wednesday, 23 February 2022 12:48 PM EST

More states are lifting mask mandates for restaurants and businesses as cases of the omicron variant drop around the country, but many school requirements still remain.

Children are at lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, which scientists now believe is because kids better mobilize a first line of immune defense, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Despite this, many schools believe mask mandates are essential to protect teachers, staff, and family members. Those who want the school mask mandates to end, meanwhile, say masks are deleterious to student-teacher interactions, language development, and can cause anxiety. 

The White House's chief medical adviser, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said removing masks in schools right now is risky, but he understood "why people want to take masks off the kids," The Journal reported.

A CBS News poll earlier this month found that 57% of parents thought masks should be required in schools; 36% want them to be optional; and 7% said masks should be banned.

Policies vary across the country. In California, New York, Hawaii, and a few other states, masks are required this school year. A few states, including Florida and Texas, have banned any district from requiring masking. Virginia’s legislature is weighing such a law.

Much of the country has left the decision to mask children to local county or school district discretion, The Journal reports.

New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts have set dates for when mask wearing won’t be required in schools, though districts can still set their own rules.

In Nevada, all districts have now made masks optional following a Feb. 10 decision by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, to lift the state’s mandate.

And 58% of New York state voters want to wait for data in early March before deciding to lift the school mask mandate, according to a new Sienna College poll, Newsmax reported.

But 30% say the mandate should have ended already. Another 10% want to see the mandate end after this week's school break.

Related stories:

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More states are lifting mask mandates for restaurants and businesses as cases of the omicron variant drop around the country, but many school requirements still remain.
schools, masks, mandates, covid, states, boards
367
2022-48-23
Wednesday, 23 February 2022 12:48 PM
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