COVID-19 has been ongoing for many months, and while the vaccine has indicated that an end could be in sight, current estimates are that the pandemic likely won’t stop until at least the spring of 2022. That means lots of kids are going back to school with COVID-19 still raging. To that end, some schools have implemented mask mandates to varying degrees, often depending on the severity of COVID-19 in the area. Here’s what you need to know as a parent about mask mandates for schools.
What Are Mask Mandates?
Mask mandates are policies that require people to wear masks in a certain area. In schools, a mask mandate will typically mean that staff, students, and visitors all have to wear masks when they’re on school premises. In open-air areas where students can safely maintain at least a three-foot distance, like outdoor lunch areas, the mandate may not apply, as scientific evidence has shown that these are the least dangerous areas.
Can States Prohibit Mask Mandates for Schools?
It’s complicated. There are multiple states that have prohibited mask mandates for schools, saying that the decision is best left up to the individual parent. However, these prohibitions are working their way through the courts, and some school districts have decided to implement mask mandates regardless of these prohibitions.
For example, Texas currently has an executive order prohibiting mask mandates for schools. However, about 85 Texas districts have decided to implement some form of mask mandate, typically in response to dozens of children in their districts testing positive for COVID-19. Regardless of what you may or may not have heard about prohibitions regarding mask mandates in your state, it’s a good idea to check with your child’s district.
Are Families Able to Opt Out of Mandates?
Again, this depends greatly on the specific district, the specific mandate, and the specific state. Some districts, especially those in high-contagion areas, may require masks with no opt-out option. If your child is unable to attend school while wearing a mask, you can talk to the district about other options, including e-learning.
It’s also a good idea to ask what options are in place if your child forgets their mask at home or if something happens to their mask at school. If the school will automatically send your child home, you might want to help them pack multiple backup masks in their backpack so they don’t have to come home because of a temporary issue with their mask.
Is Vaccination Enough?
Vaccination helps dramatically when it comes to your risk of contracting, getting hospitalized from, or dying from COVID-19. However, especially with the more contagious Delta variant now making up the majority of cases in the United States, the CDC and most scientific experts are encouraging everyone to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
This doesn’t mean you should skip the vaccination; if your child is 12 or older, take them to get fully vaccinated before sending them back to school. However, it’s still a good idea for you and your children to wear masks in highly populated areas, which definitely includes schools.
What Can I Do If There Isn’t a Mandate for My District?
Many parents are worried about the possibility that their child may have to go back to school in a district that doesn’t have a mask mandate. Masks protect both you and the people around you, and even fully vaccinated people are encouraged to wear masks with the Delta variant surging. What you can do, especially if there’s no mandate in your area, is use PeopleFinders to make sure the parents around you know the importance of masks.
With a PeopleFinders address search, you can find the contact information for other parents in your area. Then, call them up and talk to them about your kids going back to school. You can set up meetings with parents in your area where you can all talk together about pushing for mask mandates and making sure your own children wear masks.
Mask mandates can be immensely helpful in keeping your children safe at school. However, even if you don’t have a legal mandate in your area, you can still band together with other parents to make sure the school district is as masked up as possible. PeopleFinders can help you find the parents in your area and get in touch with them so you can keep everyone else safe.
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