Washington authorities have announced all schools in the state must provide full-time, in-person education for students for the 2021-22 school year and that students and staff will still be required to wear masks.
The Washington state Department of Health released guidelines that included mitigation efforts they say were designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The mask directive could prove controversial, as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday moved to ease indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.
The new federal guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
Currently people older than 12 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Washington.
About 1.1 million students attend public schools in Washington.
The Washington state schools directive for fall calls for all people in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors — as well as outdoors if six feet of distancing can’t be maintained.
The other mitigation measures include requiring basic ventilation, cleaning and infection control plans, recommending physical distancing of at least 3 feet in classrooms and six feet outside of classrooms.
State authorities are recommending COVID-19 vaccinations and testing programs but are not requiring them for in-person instruction in the fall. (AP)