DC-area schools respond to updated CDC mask guidance

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside schools, D.C.-area school districts are evaluating what their mask policy will be for the remainder of summer school programs and into September.

Children ages 12 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths are down nationwide.

Patrick Ashley, from DC Health told the D.C. Council in a Friday meeting that the District is still weighing the CDC’s guidance, and will likely issue its guidance on the matter in the coming week.

The CDC is not recommending that vaccines be mandated for students and teachers and, for now, neither is D.C.

Chris Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the District reserves the right to mandate its employees to get vaccinated, but there are no immediate plans to do so.

“We are reviewing the latest guidance from CDC and will regularly update our families about the latest health and safety protocols as we work to reopen strong this fall,” D.C. Public Schools said in a statement. “Current guidance remains in effect for students and staff participating in our summer programming.”

Fairfax County Public Schools “will keep the current layered prevention strategies in place (including the mask requirement for all when students are in an FCPS facility) through the current extended school year session,” a spokeswoman told WTOP. She added that the school system advocates for vaccinations, but does not require them.

They’ll consult with the state departments of health and education about other COVID-19 protocols.

Montgomery County Public Schools will continue to require masks inside school building through the rest of the summer, spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told WTOP.

“Tentative mask guidance for the 2021-2022 school year will be provided in late July/beginning of August,” Onijala said in an email.

Loudoun County Public Schools is also reviewing the new CDC guidance and will “keep families, administrators, and the staff informed if there are any updates,” spokesperson Wade Byard said.

Prince George’s County Public Schools media relations director Meghan Gebreselassie said the school district has not yet changed or updated the mask-wearing policy, but will follow CDC guidelines.

“Our protocols throughout the pandemic have been based on CDC guidance and on metrics specific to Prince George’s County,” Gebreselassie said. She said there is no timeline yet for when the policy will be changed.

Charles County Public Schools does not require face masks in its facilities.

“Mask use by students, staff and visitors to CCPS buildings is strongly encouraged, but voluntary. Health officials strongly encourage unvaccinated staff and students to continue mask use,” CCPS spokesperson Shelley Mackey said.

The system is still following the federal order requiring cloth face masks — but not, for example, neck gaiters or face shields — be worn on school buses. It does not require staff or students to be vaccinated.

WTOP’s Anna Gawel, Zeke Hartner, Rick Massimo and Kristi King contributed to this report.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up