Washington, DC, public schools to require face masks this fall

Delta variant is now the cause of 83% of cases in the US

Public school students in the nation’s capital will resume in-person lessons in the fall, but the city will require face masks when they do. 

Washington, D.C., Public Schools (DCPS) sent out the update to parents saying masks will be required for all students, staff and visitors in schools for the fall term regardless of vaccination status.

More than 50,000 students will return to their schools at the end of August, and the district is racing to keep families advised of changes to COVID-19 safety protocols, according to WJLA

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"We’re not intentionally withholding any information," Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said Thursday. "We’re in a very fluid environment. The guidelines and protocols shift as things evolve."

The guidance follows the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which advised that students between the ages of 2 and 12 are not currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"We need to prioritize getting children back in schools alongside their friends and their teachers," the AAP said in a press release. "We all play a role in making sure it happens safely." 

Educators have pushed to return children to in-person learning, saying that "the benefits of an in-person school outweigh the risks in almost all circumstances."

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"There is no substitute for in-person instruction," New York City's United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew told Fox News. "We want as many students back in school as safely possible."

The main concern is the increased virulence of the delta variant, which is now the cause of 83% of cases in the U.S.

However, the summer is passing quickly, and the fall term is set to start before any further vaccine authorization. Officials have discussed a number of means to protect students and limit spread, including a return of a universal mask policy

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The Washington Post first reported that the idea was being batted around within the White House, even if it was something as minor as a change in messaging from top officials rather than a wholesale update of CDC guidance. That guidance was changed in May to say vaccinated people don't need to wear masks indoors.