Austin, TX

Should Austin Schools Mandate Unvaccinated Students to Wear Masks?

Nicole Akers

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Should Austin students have to mask up at schools?Photo credit: unsplash.com by @kellysikkema

Austin, TX: Back to school should mean back to masks for unvaccinated students, according to new guidelines from the CDC. Safely returning to in-person learning is of the highest priority. The CDC suggests that school-age children under 12 who are not yet vaccinated should wear masks in school and maintain a minimum physical distance of 3 feet.

In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings or if you have been fully vaccinated. Masks are required in public places of transportation such as planes, trains, ferries, airplanes and airport hubs when traveling within the United States and Internationally.

Even though Governor Greg Abbott has followed the recommendations of the CDC on occasion regarding its suggestions for kids wearing masks in schools, the Governor says not so fast. He issued an Executive Order in May saying:

"Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

Some states like California, Washington, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, Hawaii, and North Carolina, mandate masks in schools until students and educators are vaccinated. Others like Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Vermont, and South Carolina prohibit schools from instituting a mask mandate.

Should the Governor reconsider masks with the rise of the newer Delta variant?

The Delta variant is much more contagious than others. Yale Medicine says:

“As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant,” says Dr. Yildirim.  “But Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.”
Data suggests the Delta variant is three times as virulent as the original strain. It isn't clear if the Delta virus is more contagious or leads to more severe illness. In either case, the Delta virus, at its height, claims the lives of more than 6,000 each day.
Recently more than 125 cases were confirmed when a group gathered in Clear Creek church camp near Galveston, and some of those were confirmed to be of the Delta variant. Late last week, three more cases were confirmed.

The initial cases were reported in neighboring Williamson County, but WCCHD expects cases to be quickly in Austin. It’s more a matter of when, not if

"said WCCHD Lead Epidemiologist Allison Stewart. “But it was kind of surprising, because they were the first ones that we were aware of that were identified in the TSA O Region, according to the state health department.”
Stuart went on to say:
“You really don’t have to worry too much about any sort of severe disease outcome if you’ve already been vaccinated,” she said.
But, young school-aged students are not eligible for the vaccine and the question remains: Should we reconsider whether unvaccinated should mask up in Austin schools? Should Governor Abbott reverse his earlier Executive Order on the matter?

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Professional freelance writer | Happy Mom of 2 bringing you amazing tips on parenting, travel, & lifestyle with a touch of humor & sarcasm | Dog Mom | Bestselling author.

Austin, TX
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