Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings. However, mask-wearing was something the CDC had advised during the previous school year.
“We're at a new point in the pandemic that we're all really excited about, and so it's time to update the guidance," Erin Sauber-Schatz, CDC task force
The CDC still recommends that children should be spaced 3 feet apart when they do return to school. This follows on from the CDC announcement in May that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks indoors.
Despite this relaxation of mask-wearing guidelines, some states, including California and Virginia, still have policies requiring all students to wear masks - even if they have been vaccinated. In addition, in cities such as Detroit, masks will be required by all students until 100% of the classroom, including the teacher, has been vaccinated.
As we know, Texas law does not require the use of masks in school regardless of vaccination status. But with the rise of the new COVID variant- Delta should this policy be reconsidered for schools in San Antonio?
The delta variant
The Delta variant was first found in India earlier this year -and at its peak, over 6000 people were dying a day, and hospitals were overwhelmed. In the United Kingdom, Delta now represents 90% of all new infections. And it's beginning to take hold in the United States- currently, Delta represents about 50% of all new COVID infections up from just 26% a week ago.
"It’s more contagious. The key change about this variant is that it has a better way of getting into our cells and latching onto them.” Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas.
Recently over 125 cases of COVID spread at a youth church camp in Galveston County- showing that Texas still isn't safe. Three of these were the feared Delta variant.
“Clearly, COVID is not over. COVID isn’t ever gone until it’s completely gone. And I think we’ve made the mistake of assuming that the virus would go away or assuming that the virus wouldn’t affect children … We keep stumbling into the same mistakes over and over, and that is not a way out of COVID-19.” Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist and professor at Texas A&M University.
In the North Texas region, the number of those hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased to 400, more than double the previous months. In addition, more and more new reports are appearing across Texas highlighting the growth of Delta. With outbreaks in Dallas and Houston, it may only be a matter of time before it reaches San Antonio.
Should schools be allowed to force children to wear masks?
Given the spread of COVID that hit the Galveston County church group, should children wear masks when they return to school in San Antonio until all their classmates have been vaccinated?
The World Health Organization has recommended people wear masks again- even for people that have been vaccinated.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a new executive order that bans government entities in Texas — from mandating masks in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic after June 5. This means that public schools can no longer require masks on campus.
We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up." Texas Governor Greg Abbott
At the time, the Texas State Teachers Association called Abbott's decision premature and asked him to wait on updated guidance from the CDC for the 2021-22 school year.
"The health and safety of our students, educators and communities must remain our first priority as we attempt to emerge from this pandemic," Alfred Molina Texas State Teachers Association.
A CDC study found that infection rates in Georgia schools with mask orders were 37% lower than ones without masks. Currently, 23.9% of 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States are fully vaccinated. In addition, 36.4% of 16- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated.
Editor in chief of the San Antonio News was one person who tweeted his concern at the lack of masks in Texas schools.
With the CDC still recommending masks for unvaccinated students and a safe reopening, what do you think should happen in San Antonio schools? Are you happy with Abbott's mandate removing mask orders at public schools? Or does the new Delta variant worry you and make you believe that masks are still required until all children are vaccinated in San Antonio?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.