5 U.S. States and Washington, D.C. Still to Require Masks in Schools

Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia have yet to announce any move to end mask mandates in schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Fourteen states still require masks in schools, but nine have either announced plans to end the mandates or are facing challenges or limitations regarding the restrictions, according to Education Week. The five states are California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York and Washington, all of which have Democratic governors.

The leaders of the five states are the last holdouts after many Democratic governors joined Republican counterparts who opted earlier to oust mask mandates for schools.

The Democratic governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon all announced on Monday that they would be ending the mandates, citing declining infection rates and marking a notable reversal after they favored the restrictions for so long.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, became the latest governor to make the move. In a letter Thursday, he asked the state board of education to pull back its school mask mandate.

"A growing number of medical professionals, parents, and bipartisan state officials throughout the nation are calling for an end to school mask requirements," Hogan wrote. "In light of dramatic improvements to our health metrics and the widespread availability of vaccines, I am calling on you to take action to rescind this policy.

"It is critical to move toward normalcy for students and families by rescinding the school masking policy. We must all learn to live with this virus, not in fear of it."

Other states that currently have a school mask mandate in effect but have laid out plans to rescind it include Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to Education Week.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday that the state would be rolling back its strict mask mandate for businesses. She opted to leave the mandate in place for certain institutions, including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, day cares and schools, WABC-TV reported.

Hochul cited the vaccination rate among 5- to 11-year-olds in declining to lift the school mandate.

"We have a little more work to do with the younger kids," Hochul said. "I think we can do better."

She said that the mandate could be reassessed in March at the earliest, according to WABC.

California's masking guidance will be updated on February 16 so that universal masking will be required only in certain settings, and only the unvaccinated will have to wear masks in all indoor public settings, while the fully vaccinated are recommended to wear masks indoors only when there is a high risk, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Despite the changes, California Governor Gavin Newsom has said that school mask mandates would still be in place for now, KNSD reported.

Chris Reykdal, Washington's superintendent of public instruction, has asked the state Department of Health and Governor Jay Inslee to drop the school mask mandate, but Inslee has yet to announce plans or a date to do so, KREM reported. Inslee said on Wednesday that he intends to announce a date next week for when the change could take place.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has not indicated whether she plans to end the state's school mask mandate, KRQE reported.

Newsweek reached out to Hawaii Governor David Ige's office for comment on the state's school mask mandate, which he has not yet indicated he plans to rescind.

Update 2/10/22, 1:48 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information.

School Face Mask Requirements
Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia have yet to announce any move to end mask mandates in schools. Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo