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CDC recommends universal masking in K-12 schools to stop spread of COVID-19

A student wore a mask as he sat in his fifth grade class at Mary L. Fonseca Elementary School in Fall River last fall. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending students, teachers, staff, and visitors wear masks in K-12 schools this fall, regardless of vaccination status, as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus causes COVID-19 cases nationwide to surge.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance on Tuesday as she outlined new masking guidelines for vaccinated people living in areas with “substantial and high” COVID-19 transmission. Vaccinated people are now encouraged to wear masks indoors when such transmission is occurring.

As she called for universal masking in schools, Walensky also said schools should be fully open this fall.

“Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place,” she said.


The American Academy of Pediatrics last week called for everyone older than age 2 to wear masks in school this fall, even if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The academy noted that federal regulators have not yet authorized COVID vaccines for children under age 12, leaving millions of youngsters vulnerable to infection. The group emphasized that universal masking is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and protect those who aren’t vaccinated.

In Boston, Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Thursday said students will continue wearing masks in Boston Public Schools this fall. Governor Charlie Baker has resisted calls to make mask wearing mandatory in schools statewide, but said communities were free to issue their own guidelines.

Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.