In a press conference this afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new recommendations that everyone in K-12 schools—including students and teachers—remain fully masked indoors this fall.
“The delta variant is showing us every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “In recent days I have seen new scientific data from new outbreak investigations showing that the delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19. Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that on rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome, and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
She added, “CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”
Commenting on the updated recommendations, CEA President Kate Dias said, “Safety is and must remain a top priority as we return to all in-person classes in the fall, and we expect the state to ensure that all school districts follow the CDC’s new recommendations to keep everyone in our school communities safe. Vaccinations are the best protection against the virus, but we have large populations of unvaccinated students, because vaccines are not available to them at this point, so the next best way to protect them, their educators, and their families is to wear masks. In the absence of a vaccine for students, and with the increase of cases and the spread of the delta variant, the CDC’s recommendation that everyone in K-12 schools remain fully masked indoors is the best precaution we have for our safety–especially for our most vulnerable students–and the most responsible way to ensure students stay in school. The consequences of not wearing masks means a return to a revolving door of hybrid and remote learning, causing more disruptions for our students and their education.”
The National Education Association also voiced its support of the CDC’s latest recommendations, noting, “America’s public schools should be the safest place in every community. In order to protect students and educators, schools should be consistently and rigorously employing all the CDC-recommended mitigation strategies. The science is clear that masking, COVID-19 vaccinations, appropriate ventilation, social distancing and handwashing—all in combination—is the best way to keep students, families, and educators safe and keep community transmission rates low.”
NEA added, “To ensure we have safe, equitable in-person instruction for every student in American, we must follow the science and listen to the medical experts at CDC. The evidence is clear that masks provide important protection against COVID-19 and provide the greatest protection for all of us. NEA supports robust masking policies that will keep students, families, and educators safe.”