School Mask Mandate by State | best state
Children now account for more than a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases in the US, with nearly half a million children testing positive for the virus in the past two weeks alone.
In many states these cases have risen sharply over the past weeks as schools have returned to in-person instruction while the delta version continues to spread. More than half of 12- to 17-year-olds are at least partially vaccinated, but children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine.
Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting masking in schools, there is no unified response to masking requirements in schools at the state level, according to a new analysis by USAFacts. Policies can vary greatly across state and county boundaries.
More than half of all states have no policy for wearing masks in educational institutions, leaving local and county governments to decide when and how to enforce masks.
Masks are mandatory in schools only in 16 states, mainly on the East and West Coasts and in Washington, D.C., as well as some states such as Louisiana where cases and deaths have increased in recent months. Nevada has a specific mask mandate for K-12 students with 100,000 or more residents.
In eight states, mostly in the South and Southwest, masking mandates for school students are strictly prohibited.
Mask mandates, both for schools and in general, have come to the fore in political debate in recent weeks as the federal government continues to pressure states with masking restrictions. Fighting over the mask mandate in Florida led to a recent court decision to maintain the ban on masking, while courts in Iowa blocked the enforcement of the state’s ban.
As the delta version spread rapidly across the state, causing a surge in cases and deaths, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas pushed back on a law he had previously signed to ban masks. Texas’ Supreme Court upheld the state’s masking ban, but it is no longer widely enforced as Texas currently leads the country with an average of seven days of COVID-19 cases.
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