School Face Mask Mandates Have Been Reintroduced in These States Amid Delta Surge

Several states across the U.S. have brought back face mask mandates for their schools, as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID continues to spread across the country causing cases and hospitalizations to rise.

The U.S. has seen COVID hospitalizations more than triple over the past month. It recorded 127,108 news COVID cases on Thursday, which was up from the 112,270 seen in the country on Wednesday. The country has now recorded a seven-day average of at least 100,000 new cases over the last week.

The recent surge followed on from a period of fewer positive tests as COVID vaccinations were administered across the U.S. and states lifted face mask and social distancing mandates.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its face mask recommendation to advise teachers, students and other staff members to wear face masks in schools, a turnaround from its advice earlier in July.

The CDC argued that face masks will need to be worn by those in schools as the Delta variant spreads because children under the age of 12 aren't yet eligible to get a vaccine.

In response to the dramatic spread of the Delta variant and the CDC recommendation, several states have decided to bring back their face mask mandates for schools ahead of the new academic year.

California has mandated that all students wear face masks when inside school property, with the state's Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly arguing that these steps need to be taken as facilities are unable to enforce social distancing.

Colorado has gone even further and required all students and staff to wear face masks in schools no matter what their vaccination status is, while Louisiana and Oregon have similar mandates in place for people indoors throughout the state, according to District Administration.

"We have the tools we need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives, and I am pleading with unvaccinated Louisianans to get their shot as soon as they can to protect themselves," Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards said about the order. "We can end this nightmare, but it is going to take all of us working together to do it."

Face masks will also be required for students in Washington state, Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., when the new school year starts, as the areas attempt to meet the CDC's recommendations.

Multiple school districts in several states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland and New York, have implemented their own face mask mandates in education facilities despite the states not requiring them.

Other states, including South Dakota, Michigan and Massachusetts have encouraged students to wear face masks in schools following the CDC recommendation but have not made them a requirement.

New Mexico has required face masks for students in elementary schools and for unvaccinated people in secondary schools.

Mask mandates have been prohibited in several states badly affected by the rise in cases, with Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Utah all banning a face covering requirement in schools.

Difference of Opinion in Florida

Despite Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issuing an executive order last week threatening funding to facilities that defied the ban on mandates, some school districts have decided to mandate face coverings be worn by students, including Alachua County, which will force students to wear them for the first two weeks of school, according to CNN.

Although Arkansas passed a law earlier in the year banning face mask mandates in schools, Governor Asa Hutchinson has asked if an exception can be made due to the spread of the Delta Variant and those under 12 still not being eligible for the vaccine.

With the spread of the Delta variant continuing across the U.S. and school years either starting or gearing up to begin throughout the country, more mask mandates could be implemented soon.

New Jersey is expected to implement a face mask mandate in schools in the state on Friday, with NJ.com reporting that Governor Phil Murphy will announce that students and staff members in kindergarten through 12th grade will be forced to wear face coverings.

Face mask sign in California
A sign urges the use of face masks for a Cal State Los Angeles commencement ceremony, which was held outdoors beneath a tent on campus on July 27, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. Several states across the U.S.have brought back face mask mandates for their schools as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread across the country. Mario Tama/Getty Images