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How long will mask mandates remain in Alabama schools?

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 7:24 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - With more and more youth getting vaccinated against COVID-19, mask mandates in Alabama schools will likely become a thing of the past – someday.

“Currently, CDC has continued to state universal masking in the classroom,” Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said.

Of Alabama kids ages 5-11, around 7,500 have received a vaccine, according to the latest data from ADPH. Of youth ages 12-17 around 131,300 have received a shot.

In addition to vaccination rates, Landers, who is a pediatrician, believes other factors should be considered before ending mask requirements in the classroom.

“We want to look at what’s going on in the community in terms of community transmission, in terms of the numbers of cases per 100,000, the overall numbers of positive test, you know, how the medical system is doing in that community,” Landers said.

Some Alabama school systems have already removed mask mandates.

Auburn City Schools lifted its mandate Nov. 1, and Pike Road Schools as well as Elmore County Public Schools announced mask-optional policies in September.

However, that is not the case for Montgomery Public Schools. MPS officials are waiting for additional guidance from ADPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If the federal government as well as local and state government say, you know, that we can relax the mask rules a little bit, we’ll definitely look at our numbers and make adjustments,” MPS senior communication officer Jade Jones said.

“We don’t want to jump the gun too soon,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy – That is our priority.”

The health department has reached out to the CDC for updated recommendations on mask wearing in schools.

“We hear what people are saying and we are asking for more information and studying this ourselves to try to see what else we can develop in order to help with this problem,” Landers said.

In the meantime, the health expert wants to remind the public that universal masking in the classroom “significantly” reduces COVID-19 spread. She continues to recommend eligible people get vaccinated.

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