States are acting to protect children from school councils who would require masks in schools. More states are requiring schools to offer mask-choice to children. The Wall Street Journal reports:
More states are blocking K-12 schools and college campuses from requiring vaccines and masking, bucking recent federal recommendations that eligible students should be vaccinated and that unvaccinated students should wear masks when in-person learning resumes in coming weeks.
Bans blocking schools and colleges from requiring Covid-19 vaccination or proof of vaccination have passed in at least eight states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. In some cases, the bans extend to other public entities and private businesses.
At least three states—Arizona, Arkansas and Oklahoma—have outlawed the required use of masks in schools.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended that students, teachers and staff who aren’t fully vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors. It also urged schools to reopen in person while maintaining 3-foot social distancing and encouraging more families to be vaccinated.
Detractors say the bans could drive more infection. The U.S. is averaging more than 23,000 new cases a day, double the seven-day average of around 11,300 cases three weeks ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The Delta variant, which has been thought to be about 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant though estimates vary, is now the dominant strain in the U.S.
Supporters say the laws allow families to make their own choices about precautions.
Calling vaccination and mask requirements “one of the most contentious issues in Arkansas,” Republican state Sen. Trent Garner wrote legislation banning such requirements, which passed in April. This week he stood by the law despite new CDC guidelines and surging infection rates.
“Ultimately, the best form of local control is the individual, and each individual family can make that decision,” he said.
In June, Arizona passed laws banning vaccine and mask mandates at schools and colleges starting this fall. The move followed Arizona State University’s announcement that unvaccinated students were expected to wear masks and be tested. The governor then issued an executive order, which was followed by a legislative vote, outlawing mandatory masks and Covid-19 testing in public universities, except in cases of outbreaks in dormitories, and only with the governor’s approval.
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