As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it can be difficult to know what to expect from one day to the next. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend that all students, staff, and visitors wear masks inside school buildings – but some states have their own rules regarding in-school masking. So, should we expect masks in schools?
What the CDC Says About Masks in Schools
First, let’s review what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say about masks in schools. In early August, the CDC updated its recommendations for masks in light of the delta variant, which is sweeping the country. At that point, the agency recommended universal masking in K-12 schools for all staff, teachers, visitors, and students aged two and older, regardless of vaccination status. The health authority also recommended protections like vaccination, social distancing, regular testing, hand washing, contact tracing, and regular disinfection.
What the Law Says About Masks in Schools
While the CDC has not issued any sort of nationwide mask mandate, some states are mandating masks in schools. The Washington Post reports that, as of early August, 12 states have mandated masks in schools statewide: California, Oregon, Washington state, Nevada, Louisiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The District of Columbia has also issued a school mask mandate. Meanwhile, seven states have banned school mask mandates: Texas, Florida, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma, Iowa, and South Carolina. Ultimately, masking requirements currently vary on a state-by-state basis. However, current statistics suggest that many parents and students can expect school mask mandates this fall, particularly in higher education.
Masks in Higher Education
On the local level, Missouri State University announced in early August that masking is required for students, staff, and faculty. The university’s policy will apply to all individuals on campus, vaccinated or not, and will officially commence on August 22. Per the policy, the university will require masks in the following areas: classrooms, hallways, elevators, stairwells, restrooms, study areas, conference rooms, and other common areas. The policy will, however, be evaluated every 30 days, leaving room for flexibility as the pandemic continues to evolve.
Growing Precedent for Vaccines in Schools
School mask mandates are certainly making headlines, as are back-to-school vaccine requirements. The Washington Post reports that there is a growing trend of public school administrators requiring vaccination for school staff. For example, in early August, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide vaccination requirement for school staff. Per the Post, leaders of both large national teachers’ unions support school staff vaccine mandates.
So, should we expect masks in schools this fall? Policies vary throughout the country; however, current trends suggest that school mask mandates will become a reality, at least for the foreseeable future. Of course, the pandemic is constantly evolving. As variants emerge, experts are working tirelessly to further understand the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. With additional research and community support, clinical researchers may be well on their way to creating a safer future for school staff, students, and families.
Have you ever thought about participating in a clinical research study? You could be a part of history! QPS Missouri is looking for new participants. Since opening its doors in 1994, QPS Missouri has conducted over 1,000 FDA-regulated studies, paying out over $35 million to local participants. Your local participation could have a global impact, as QPS is an international leader in contract research with facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our mission is to accelerate the development of drugs worldwide by enabling breakthroughs in pharmaceutical innovation. This includes several pediatric studies across several age ranges. If you would like to join us in this crucial healthcare mission, consider applying for a clinical research study.
To get started, you simply need to fill out an online application. After that, within 48 business hours, a recruiting coordinator will contact you for your pre-screening assessment. To learn more, please visit the QPS Missouri website, review the study participation process, or check out our list of frequently asked questions.