Democratic governors across the country have eased up on their mask mandates much to the chagrin of President Joe Biden and others seeking to force Americans to cover their faces in cotton. As America enters the post-COVID era, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also seems to be getting on board with the idea that people should not have to wear what some feel are useless pieces of fabric on their mouths and noses to make the neurotic types feel better.
Schools should only mandate masks when COVID cases and hospitalizations are high, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday, in a shift that means most U.S. schools now have the agency’s OK to go without masks.
The move is the first major change in national guidance on masks in schools since last summer, and follows decisions by many states and districts to lift mask mandates in recent weeks. Still, many schools have continued to require masks for students and staff, and the CDC’s shift could pave the way for further changes.
The author noted that “[t]he rules appear to be an attempt by federal officials to thread the needle between increasing political pressure to return to “normal” and the fact that COVID-19 still represents a threat, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low.”
CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti said on Friday that “[b]ecause children are relatively at lower risk for severe illness, schools can be safe places for children” and that the agency is “recommending that schools use the same guidance that we are recommending in general community settings.”
The new guidelines suggest that if the rate of new COVID cases and hospitalizations are low and hospitals are not experiencing overcrowding, mask mandates are not necessary. Currently, about 70 percent of Americans reside in areas where these numbers are either low or moderate according to Chalkbeat. The CDC does suggest that in areas in which cases and hospitalizations are high, mask mandates should still be employed.
About half of the country’s largest 500 school districts currently require masks, according to the tracking site Burbio, including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. That’s a substantial dip from the beginning of the month, when more than 60% of those districts had mask mandates. Only two states — California and New York — still have a statewide school mask requirement with no announced end date.
Many cities, including New York City and Los Angeles, have kept up mask requirements even when cases subsided. However, both cities recently rescinded outdoor mask requirements.
The debate over masks mandates has been raging ever since state and local governments implemented them ostensibly to stop the spread of the coronavirus. While the government and Democrats have argued that the face coverings are an effective means of preventing people from becoming infected, others – even in the medical community – expressed doubts about the efficacy of wearing masks.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona defended the use of masks earlier in February, claiming they are necessary for students in school. He said, “[y]ou know what hinders kids’ learning? Being quarantined because they have COVID, or not having a teacher because their teacher has COVID.”
However, others argue that requiring students to wear face coverings has impeded their learning. “For a small child, not being able to see a teacher’s face or a teacher not being able to see a small child’s face, that did detract,” Pam Swanson, a Colorado district superintendent, told Chalkbeat in a prior interview. “School is a social thing.”
Nevertheless, things are going back to normal. When even left-leaning leaders believe America has had enough of the mandates, it is easy to see that it is time for this epoch to conclude. The CDC’s new guidance seems to suggest the agency’s leaders recognize the shift. This does not mean the COVID regime will let go of its power easily. But even they cannot stop what is coming. The question is: What will the new normal look like?