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Connecticut reviewing CDC mask guidance for K-12 schools

Updated guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday urging mask-wearing in schools did not prompt Gov. Ned Lamont to make any immediate decisions about what will be in store for kids and teachers returning this fall.

“We’re still reviewing CDC guidance but, similarly to what we’ve done in the past, we have been rather consistent when it comes to masks and CDC — but there’s no official stance at this point,” said Max Reiss, spokesperson for the governor.

The CDC’s updated guidance recommends that teachers, staff and students continue to wear masks in schools regardless of their vaccination status. Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics also released similar guidance strongly recommending universal mask-wearing “because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines.”

Although the governor’s office is still reviewing the CDC recommendations, Lamont still holds his emergency executive powers until the end of September, and the current mandate states that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face masks or face coverings “except for in certain rare settings,” one of which includes schools.

Before the CDC updated its recommendations on Tuesday, the state Department of Education released interim recommendations to district superintendents that advise they follow the governor’s existing executive order regarding masks in schools but also stated that “updates to mask guidance for the Fall 2021 school year will be finalized in the coming weeks.”

The state’s largest teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association, said the new CDC guidance aligns with their priorities, which is to make sure students and their families can be in schools safely.

Kate Dias, CEA’s new president, said she understands that people continue to have frustrations with mask-wearing but explained that masks are “the most responsible way to ensure that students stay in school” in the absence of vaccines.

“I think we really have to be serious about masks, otherwise we’re going to create a revolving door again, which was the worst experience last year,” Dias said in an interview. “So our priority is to get kids back into school safely, and I think that at the moment, because of the way this virus is progressing, what the CDC is requiring is the best precautions we can put out there.”

Adria Watson is a reporter for The Connecticut Mirror (www.ctmirror.org). Copyright 2021 © The Connecticut Mirror.

awatson@ctmirror.org

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