What is happening between COVID-19, mask mandates, and school officials?

LisaB

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Relaxing mask-mandate in schoolsKelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Recently the problem of school's requirements for COVID-19 vaccination and mask-wearing has hit the spotlight. Relaxing mask mandates came on the heels of several states announcing their intentions to relax mask mandates for the outdoors soon. But what about our education system. There is a split on mask-wearing and vaccination for students and teachers. Also, how are parents influencing the outcome?

The educational system has been affected significantly over the two years it was strongest. Many public health and education officials saw vaccination as a means to return education to normal. However, there have been more struggles in the implementation process. Educational districts are still to establish clear guidelines on these topics.

Should you be concerned about the relaxation of the mask mandates?

Early this month, three states have voiced their intent to end the mask mandates for schools and outdoor activities. Other states are also considering the same. There is still controversy surrounding the proper way to handle masking in schools.

Many teacher's unions need strict guidelines for a mask mandate for teachers. The Omicron variant spread increases daily. The president of the AFT is asking for a conversation about the off-ramping masks for teachers. A conversation she explains is based on science and not politics. More so, the AFT president is asking for clear guidelines on mask-wearing should there be another surge in cases. Teachers are not opposed to unmasking in classrooms but solely based on science.

Mask-wearing for children in school is a bit different. The weight falls more on parents' and caregivers' approaches. CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen advises parents to encourage their children to wear a mask if they see it necessary. Thus the decision is based on parents and how they want to handle the masking situation.

The vaccination mandate for students, teachers, and other staff in the education system is unclear.

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Vaccination of childrenCDC / Unsplash

Currently, the vaccination mandates for teachers and students remain in the hands of politicians. At the development of a vaccine, many believe things will return to normalcy. But that wasn't the case.

As of early February, only 22 percent of children 5-15 years old received the vaccine. Twenty-two percent is well below what health officials thought, especially to get the schooling system back to normal. Most school districts have not made vaccination for schools necessary. The reason for low vaccination rates is unclear. Since children are 'less likely to become severely ill' is related to decrease urgency in this age group.

What about teachers? Vaccination mandates for teachers are a bit more complicated than for children. While the teacher's unions are broadly supportive of vaccination, they have not enforced it in many districts. Bradley Marianno, a professor of education policy at the University of Nevada, commented on this topic. He said that if vaccination mandates for teachers become necessary, the unions can negotiate.

Covid-19 guidelines in the education system

Vaccination and mask mandates guidelines for schools are still unclear. With states announcing their intention to drop mask mandates for schools, it is still up to the parents and caregivers. A medical analyst testified that relaxing mask mandates weren't premature. And worried parents and caregivers can still encourage mask-wearing if necessary.

The vaccination mandates, however, are much different. The vaccination rate in children 5-15 years is still low. Teachers' unions have not enforced vaccination mandates but support the initiative.

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DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is not an expert on Public Health. All the information presented was researched from credible sources. All sources were written by professionals in the field of Public Health.

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I am a Healthcare major with a minor in biology. For the last 2 years, I have been blogging on Medium and Vocal Media sharing health tips. Besides my volunteer work, blogging is another way to get information our to the public, especially health.

Hackensack, NJ
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