Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, public debate about wearing face coverings—including cloth or surgical masks and N95 respirators—has not subsided. Many states have eliminated requirements for universal masking in schools, and on February 25, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its longstanding guidance on school masking, changing its recommendation of universal masking in all schools to a metric-driven approach that pegs masking recommendations to community data on case numbers and hospital admissions and capacity.
NEA had called on the CDC to provide updated guidance to inform transitions away from mask mandates. While the Association was encouraged by the new guidance, it renewed its call for local governments to bring educators to the table to help determine how to keep school communities safe. NEA continues to call on those making decisions about masking to factor in the the needs of students with disabilities, students and educators who are immunocompromised, and communities of color that have disproportionately suffered severe illness and death from COVID-19.
This document summarizes updates to the CDC school-related guidance on face coverings and provides general information on masks and respirators. The final section of this document—Taking Action Based on the New CDC Guidance—includes suggestions for state and local NEA affiliates.