Mar 10, 2022 - News

Mayor says D.C. public schools mask mandate likely to end next week

Illustration of a school crossing sign wearing a mask.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The mask mandate for D.C. public schools could end as early as next week, Mayor Muriel Bowser told Axios yesterday, a day after the city’s health department scrapped a masking requirement for all schools and childcare facilities.

Driving the news: Bowser said that she expects schools chancellor Lewis Ferebee will lift the mask mandate “for the majority of people” inside schools.

  • She added that Ferebee is talking to campuses about the policy change.

Why it matters: DCPS currently requires masking. It would join Montgomery County and the state of Virginia in ending the mask mandate for students.

Driving the news: DC Health on Tuesday updated its guidance for schools, childcare facilities, and colleges to remove the requirement for masking, in line with the latest CDC metrics.

  • Masking could be reinstated if D.C. moves into levels of “high” COVID-19 community levels, per the CDC’s metrics.
  • The city is currently in “low” transmission.

What they’re saying: Washington Teachers Union president Jacqueline Pogue Lyons said it is reasonable to lift the mask mandate in schools, but said other protocols such as at-home testing should remain in place.

  • “It is still a pandemic, and just because we’re loosening this mandate doesn’t mean we loosen everything else,” she told Axios. She believes leaders are “leaning toward” lifting the mask mandate, following moves from other big cities.

Charter schools are still reviewing the guidance and will make decisions based on individual community needs, says DC Charter School Alliance executive director Shannon Hodge.

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