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Should schools mandate masks?
Do you support or oppose mask mandates in schools?
By Casey Dawson, Countable News
What's the story?
- A number of states have implemented bans prohibiting mask mandates in public schools.
- Despite this, many local school districts are requiring masks for all students and employees in the face of rising COVID-19 cases—fifteen states and the District of Columbia require masks be worn in schools.
The current situation:
- Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah are currently the only states to have mask mandate bans.
- All of the above states are in some stage of litigation over the bans: either it's been struck down, paused during ongoing litigation, or upheld until September 29.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) recently sued six school districts that issued mask mandates in defiance of Gov. Abbott’s order against them.
- Over half of all public school students in Florida are now enrolled in schools that require masks. One district approved the mandate after over 400 new positive cases were reported amongst their students and staff.
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) recently announced that the state will withhold funds from districts that have mask mandates or closed in-person schooling. The state also announced a separate grant program for families impacted by their school district’s COVID-19 safety measures, including mask mandates.
- President Joe Biden's Department of Education has opened civil rights investigations into states where bans on the mask mandates remain in effect.
What they’re saying
Supporters of mask bans
- Amongst parents, teachers, and officials against mask mandates, many believe that wearing a mask should be a personal choice and requirements restrict constitutional freedoms.
- Parents say that school districts did not involve them enough before making widespread decisions.
- Some believe masks impede learning, are unhygienic, and crush student morale. Some also claim that masks are not effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19, despite widespread data and scientific consensus to the contrary.
Critics of mask bans
- School districts and parents that support mask mandates cite data that masks are a proven method in preventing the spread of COVID-19 indoors and are recommended by the CDC.
- Experts have said that state and local-level mask mandates do not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
- Lawsuits filed in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas argue that local school districts have jurisdiction to require masks.
The big picture
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all persons in areas of substantial or high transmission wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. They do not require or recommend masks when outdoors.
- According to the CDC, most counties across the country have substantial or high transmission rates as the Delta variant spreads and COVID-19 cases surge to early January 2021 numbers.
- Two recent studies show that a majority of parents support mask mandates for unvaccinated people and almost 70 percent of American adults support mask mandates in schools.
- With legislators and parents organizing in Ohio, Mississippi, and other states, more mask mandate bans may be on the horizon. School districts and states are expected to continue to spar over who has the right to require or ban masks.
What can you do?
- Check your local school district and state mask requirements here. Contact your local school district or representative to make your voice known on this issue.
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