Students who are vaccinated don’t have to wear masks in school this fall unless they are riding the school bus or their school decides otherwise, according to new guidance released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new guidance—first detailed in a report from the New York Times on Friday—includes added language underlining what the agency says is the “importance of offering in-person learning,” regardless of whether a specific school is able to follow all COVID-19 prevention recommendations.
School district leaders will now be encouraged to make their own decisions regarding whether to ramp up or loosen specific policies, i.e. social distancing and masks, by keeping an eye on locally focused COVID-19 numbers.
“Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority,” the agency said in the updated guidance, which is available to read in full here.
Among the additional highlights from the current guidance for K-12 schools are that masks should be worn indoors by those who are not vaccinated, students and staff should make a point to stay home when feeling unwell, and schools should not exclude students from in-person learning.
Notably, the updated guidance marks an expected change in tone from prior recommendations, most noticeable in the fact that school officials are now being urged to monitor local numbers in pursuit of best practices as opposed to following a nationwide approach.
A more location-specific angle to pandemic guidelines at large is not much of a surprise given that vaccination rates can vary dramatically from region to region, with certain clusters of unvaccinated people recently determined to be putting the entire country at risk due to mutations.
Parents across the country are rejoicing.