10 States Have School Mask Mandates While 8 Forbid Them

By: - August 10, 2021 12:00 am

Students and parents enter the building on the first day of school at Enrique S. Camarena Elementary in Chula Vista, California. As the nation’s schools prepare to open, political positions on mask mandates are evolving. Denis Poroy/The Associated Press

Last week, Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey issued new school mask mandates.

New York punted, releasing this statement from the state health commissioner on Aug. 5: “With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools. Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments.”

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam pointed to a new law passed by the legislature July 1, which directs school districts to open in person in the fall and follow CDC guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as effectively requiring schools to mandate masks.

Meanwhile, roughly 11% of the nation’s K-12 students had started school as of Friday. And in Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Mississippi, more than 80% started school last week. About half of Tennessee students went back to school and about a third started in Indiana, New Mexico and Alabama, according to Burbio, a New York-based research organization that’s tracking COVID-19 policies in schools. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Christine Vestal

Christine Vestal covers mental health and drug addiction for Stateline. Previously, she covered health care for McGraw-Hill and the Financial Times.