ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - With a highly anticipated school year just weeks away, on Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings, relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.
The changes come amid a national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12-years-old are eligible to receive shots, as well as a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
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The nation's top public health agency is not advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible kids. And it's not offering guidance on how teachers can know which students are vaccinated or how parents will know which teachers are immunized.
Montogmery County Public Schools for example officials said that while they have not made a determination for the fall, masks are currently required to be worn indoors for everyone attending summer school programs and on school buses.
"We will have updated guidance for the fall later this month, early August," said Gboyinde Onijala, spokesperson for MCPS. "The guidance we receive from state and local health officials as well as the CDC is critically important as we make these determinations for the fall."
In a major effort to revive at least some pre-pandemic normalcy, many school systems across the country and in the DMV began announcing a few months ago that fall would mark a full return of students to brick-and-mortar schools five days a week.
Some MCPS parents and students whom Fox 5’s Ayesha Khan spoke with said, the reality is that most schools will have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff, so how would someone decide when it’s appropriate to have a mask on and when not to?
"With the new variant we aren’t sure about it so I think it’s just safer to wear the mask," said MCPS parent, Maria Valerio.
"It’s kind of a toss up and it’s kind of hard to say where I draw the line because we are still waiting for her to get vaccinated," said Mac Bahk about his 4-year-old daughter.
"Honestly, it doesn’t bother me as much now that we have been through all this crazy stuff, I mean I just want her to be able to play with kids."
MCPS, in addition to officials with Loudoun, Fairfax and Frederick County Public Schools have said that they currently do not require vaccination or proof of, as that would be determined by the state.
In an email statement to Khan, LCPS spokesperson, Wayde Byard wrote:
"LCPS is reviewing the CDC updates and, as has been our practice, will keep families, administrators, and staff informed if there are updates to the mitigation protocol."
In an email statement to Khan, Frederick County Public Schools spokesperson, Brandon Oland said:
"Right now, here in Frederick County Public Schools Maryland, we are hosting in-person summer programs countywide, so I can tell you what we are doing right now. Masks are required on our school buses for drivers and riders. Aside from that, masks are optional for students and staff in and outside our buildings. We are always in consultation with the Frederick County Health Department and will continue following all guidance from the Maryland Department of Health and the CDC. We are not requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination."
Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Beth Visioli said via an email:
"FCPS will be reviewing the CDC guidance on COVID-19 protocols and will await additional guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and The Virginia Department of Education.
FCPS will keep the current layered prevention strategies in place (including the mask requirement for all when students are in an FCPS facility) through the current extended school year session.
We will provide updated guidance for the following session as needed."
"I’m planning to wear a mask when I am back to school," said John Fereira, an in-coming freshman ar Churchill High School.
"I think it’s time to get back to normal but at the same time, everyone has to be safe and has to respect each other and watch out for each other," said Daniel Neubauer, whose daughter is in the 7th grade in Howard County.