CDC still recommends school mask requirement after Ducey removes order

In School Learning
Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 20:28:23-04

PHOENIX — One day after Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded a state order requiring masks at K-12 schools, citing an "alignment with CDC guidance," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the agency continues to recommend schools mandate the consistent use of face masks by all students and staff.

"Masks should be worn at all times, by all people in school facilities, with exceptions for situations such as eating or drinking," the CDC statement to ABC15 read in part.

Gov. Ducey in his Monday announcement said the removal of the order was based on updated guidance from the CDC, as well as the increasing number of people who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Teachers, families and students have acted responsibly to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect one another, and our school leaders are ready to decide if masks should be required on their campuses,” Gov. Ducey said in a statement Monday. “We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward.”

ABC15 reached out to the CDC Tuesday regarding their guidance for schools, and what changes, if any had been made. They released the following statement to us:

Since issuing its updated Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention on March 19, 2021, CDC continues to recommend that schools require consistent and correct use of face masks by all students, teachers, and staff to ensure the safe delivery of in-person instruction and to help prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools. Masks should be worn at all times, by all people in school facilities, with exceptions for situations such as eating or drinking. Masks should be required in all classroom and non-classroom settings, including hallways, school offices, restrooms, gyms, and auditoriums, as well as on school buses and other public transportation.

In his Monday press release, the governor added that K-12 school districts and charter schools still have the right to enforce policies to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, including the use of masks.

Some districts have already pushed back, issuing statements that they will keep masks in place, while others are making it optional.

We’ve compiled a list here of districts and schools that have made announcements on their mask policies since Monday’s announcement.

Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows more than 3.6 million children have been diagnosed with the coronavirus across the nation. Fortunately, only a small percentage, around 1% to 3%, required hospital care.

While kids are far less likely to suffer severe consequences from the virus, they remain the perfect vector for the disease as an asymptomatic carrier.

"Kids are obviously a very high risk for transmitting it even though they remain at very low risk of having a serious outcome or death," said Pima County Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz.

See the breakdown of COVID-19 cases between students and staffers in Arizona schools below.