With children heading back to full-time, in-person school over the next few weeks while the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges, many parents are wondering whether their kids will be required to wear a mask.
With this in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new guidance on K-12 schools, recommending universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older) regardless of vaccination status. Despite CDC guidance, some states don’t have school mask mandates in place though, so here’s a state-by-state list to summarize the rules where you live.
Please note: Mask policies are ever-changing, and guidelines vary by district where there is no statewide mandate. For the most accurate mask guidelines, check with your local school district.
While there is no statewide mandate, according to AL.com, at least 58 of Alabama’s 149 public school districts are now requiring masks for students.
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Despite the lack of a statewide mandate, seven of the top 10 largest school districts in the state, including Anchorage and Juneau, are requiring universal masking.
At least 10 school districts, including Phoenix Elementary and Phoenix Union High School District, are defying Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s ban on mask mandates by requiring their students to wear masks (inciting an ongoing court battle).
Though Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law in April prohibiting schools from requiring masks, he’s now working to lift that ban, telling the Associated Press, “Everything has changed now. And yes, in hindsight, I wish that it had not become law.”
California is requiring all public school students wear masks.
The Centennial State has no mask mandate for schoolchildren, but Denver and Jeffco School Districts will require it.
Gov. Ned Lamont has put a statewide mask policy in effect. While local public health and education departments will release updated policies prior to the school year starting, schools are expected to follow the statewide policy until then.
Delaware is requiring all students wear masks.
Though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the Biden Administration’s recommendations for school-aged children “unscientific and inconsistent,” and signed an executive order protecting parental freedom to choose whether their children wear masks, some counties have announced that masks will be required for the 2021-2022 school year.
Though there is no statewide mask mandate in Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is requiring faces masks within the city, including its more than 100 schools.
All students in the Aloha State are required to wear masks.
Though there is no statewide mandate in Idaho, the Boise School District is requiring masks.
In early August, citing “our current trajectory in hospitalizations and ICU usage,” Gov. JB Pritzker announced masks would be required for all students.
There is no statewide mask mandate in Indiana, but an increasing number of Central Indiana school districts are requiring them after seeing increased cases of COVID-19 since schools opened.
The state of Iowa has prohibited schools from requiring masks.
Kansas schools have the option of mandating masks. The state’s largest district, Wichita Public Schools, will encourage but not require masks to be worn indoors.
All students in Kentucky are required to wear masks. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the mandate for all K-12 schools on August 10.
In Louisiana, masks are required at all indoor locations including schools regardless of vaccination status.
The largest school district in Maine, Portland Public Schools, will require universal masking while many other school districts will not.
There is no statewide school mask mandate in Maryland, but students in the the Baltimore City, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s school districts will be required to wear masks at school.
Massachusetts school districts will be able to decide individually whether to require masks for students. Districts in Boston, Springfield, and Amherst have already made the decision to mandate them this school this year.
Though the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services strongly encourages face coverings in schools, mask mandates are at the discretion of local districts.
The state of Minnesota does not require masks in schools, but its top health and education officials have recommended universal indoor masking for everyone (over age 2) in school settings.
Calling the CDC’s updated guidance on mask wearing “foolish,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has not issued a statewide mandate for face coverings in schools (despite the Mississippi Association of Educators calling for one).
Though Kansas City Public Schools is requiring its staff to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or participate in weekly testing, local boards of education will decide if their students must wear them.
Though Montana has recommended indoor masking for students, it does not have a statewide requirement.
In Nebraska, schools have the option of mandating masks. Several districts, including the state’s largest, Omaha Public Schools, will require that masks be worn indoors.
In the states largest counties, Clark and Washoe, masks are required. In the other 15 counties, it’s up to the districts to decide.
New Hampshire schools have the option of mandating masks, but are not required to do so.
All students in the Garden State will go back to school wearing masks.
While vaccinated students at the middle and high school level are not required to wear face coverings in New Mexico, masks are required for elementary students and staff throughout the state regardless of vaccination status.
Schools have the option to mandate masks in the state of New York (and incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she supports mask mandates for children in school). New York City schools will require them regardless of vaccination status.
North Carolina schools have the option to mandate masks. According to the Citizen Times, 55 of the state’s 115 districts have mandated the face coverings, while 54 have made it optional.
School districts will decide whether their students will be required to wear masks in North Dakota.
There is no statewide mask mandate for Ohio schools; however Columbus, Cleveland, and Akron schools will make them a requirement.
Masks are not required in Oklahoma schools. In a July press conference, Gov. Kevin Stitt ruled out school mask mandates saying, “This is about personal responsibility. This is about freedoms.”
Masks are required at all school in Oregon.
In Pennsylvania, whether to mandate mask-wearing has been left up to the individual school districts.
Though Gov. Dan McKee did not make face covering mandatory in schools, he is now facing pressure from dozens of Rhode Island lawmakers to issue a statewide mask mandate.
Schools in South Carolina are prohibited from mandating masks.
In late July, Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted, “I will not be issuing any statewide directive either requiring or prohibiting masks in our schools.” However, several districts including Sioux Falls and Rapid City will require them.
Current state law allows school districts to mandate masks if they so choose. Mandates are already in place in Memphis and Nashville schools.
Although state law prohibits schools from mandating masks, the Dallas, Austin, and Houston districts are defying the law to require them in school. The debate between state and local government rages on however, as the Texas Supreme Court has temporarily halted mask orders in Dallas and Bexar counties.
Schools are prohibited from mandating masks in Utah.
While Vermont’s Agency of Education recommends that schools require masks for the unvaccinated, individual schools have authority to decide whether to make masks mandatory.
Masks are required in all K-12 Virginia schools.
All students are required to wear masks inside the state of Washington’s schools.
Everyone attending public school in the District of Columbia must wear a mask this year.
While the decision to mandate masks has been left up to the schools in West Virginia for now, Gov. Jim Justice has said that he will possibly issue a mask mandate if COVID-19 trends worsen in the state.
Though there’s no law requiring students to wear masks in Wisconsin, the states largest districts—Madison and Milwaukee—have implemented a mask mandate.
Whether students wear masks is up to individual school district in Wyoming.