All students and school staff in the cities of Atlanta and Chicago will be required to wear masks upon return to the classroom this fall, regardless of vaccination status, state officials said Thursday.
Chicago Public Schools Interim Chief Executive Officer José Torres said in a letter to parents on Thursday that the decision was made based on recommendations from local, state and federal public health experts.
“Continuing to require masks will help make sure those in our school communities who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which encompasses the majority of our students, remain as safe as possible,” Torres said in his letter.
The letter also outlines further measures such as enforcing social distancing in the classroom and cafeteria from Aug. 30, when classes will resume for in-person learning in the Illinois city.
Torres said in a statement that the measures will “keep our communities safe while providing our students the high-quality, in-person education they deserve.”
Separately, in Georgia, Atlanta Public Schools announced the same day that it will implement a “universal mask wearing” policy in all of the system’s school buildings when classes resume on Aug. 5.
Officials in making the announcement said that just 18 percent of eligible students in the school system are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 58 percent of the school system’s employees have said they are either fully vaccinated or plan to be.
While a similar mask mandate was announced for the state of California on July 12, officials shortly later updated guidance to suggest the decision would be left to local schools. Several school districts have said that they will not enforce the policy.
Other U.S. states that currently require students to wear masks in schools include Washington, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Hawaii, according to technology company Burbio.
Senators in New Jersey, meanwhile, held a hearing earlier this month to explore the efficacy and negative effects of forcing children to wear face masks in schools; they said they think the scientific evidence doesn’t support such mandates.
This is an excerpt from The Epoch Times.
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