May 13, 2022 - Health

Some schools bring back masks amid uptick in COVID cases

Students in Isabel Reyes kindergarten class at Stanley Mosk Elementary school wear masks while indoors Friday, March 11, 2022.
Students in a kindergarten class at Stanley Mosk Elementary in Winnetka, CA on March 11. Photo: David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

A small number of schools are bringing back masks as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Why it matters: It's a stark contrast compared to previous surges when masking in schools was widespread, underscoring the public's reluctance to reinstate pandemic restrictions two-plus years into the pandemic, AP notes.

Driving the news: Portland, Maine brought back its mask mandate this week, with Superintendent Xavier Botana saying "a return to required masking [is] the safest course at this time," per a letter to parents.

  • "I understand how disappointing this change may be to many of you who stopped wearing a mask when masking became optional," Botana added.
  • A middle school and high school in another Maine district have transitioned to remote learning for the rest of the week due to staffers testing positive, WGME-TV reports.

Pittsburgh Public Schools brought back its mask mandate on Friday, less than two weeks after masks were made optional in schools, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

In Ohio, the Bedford School District reinstated its mask requirements for all staff, students and visitors to any district buildings, per News 5 Cleveland.

  • "You kind of let your guard down, so that’s what we were starting to do. And now that the masks are back on, we’re like, ‘Oh wait a second, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic,'" Rosalyn Wells, the mother of a third-grader said.

School officials in Northampton, Massachusetts also reinstated their mask mandate this week.

  • "I know there will be a variety of opinions concerning this decision,” the district's superintendent, John Provost, said in a letter to the school district, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
  • "It is not one that I made lightly. Keeping our school community safe and our schools open and functioning are my most important duties at this time."

The big picture: The majority of school districts nationwide have not reinstated mask mandates amid the current uptick in cases, per AP.

  • But, some parents in districts where masks have been reinstated are not pleased with the decision.
  • "They should go back to essentially a mask recommendation or mask optional policy," said Northampton parent Patrick Boughan, Western Mass News reports.
  • "With all of these measures we have, including vaccines and boosters, we are in a different world than we were in 2020 when we reached for these mask mandates," Boughan added.

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