Health officials raise concerns about spread of COVID as students return to the classroom

Some districts don’t require masks in schools

Battle over masks in schools
Battle over masks in schools

DETROIT – In some states, Monday (Aug. 9) is the first day of school. Students and parents are facing policies that vary between school districts.

Some school districts require masks for everyone while others have banned schools from mandating them. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said COVID cases in children and teens are rising. They said there are five times as many cases now as at the end of June.

Read: Expert offers advice on the right way to ‘return to normal’

“There seems to be this notion that children don’t get sick from COVID. They do,” Dr. Heather Haq, with the Texas Children’s Hospital, said. “We’re really concerned with the delta variant taking control. That we’re going to see a substantial increase over the next few weeks with school reopenings being a major catalyst.”

While vaccines are being urged for school staff and kids age 12 and older, the biggest battle right now is over masks. Seven states have banned schools from requiring masks. Some districts are defying those orders and several are facing lawsuits.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he regrets the mask mandate ban he signed in April.

“Our cases were at a low point. Everything is changed now. And yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law,” Hutchinson said.

Parents sued in Arkansas to allow schools to require masks. On Friday (Aug. 6), a judge stopped the state from enforcing the mask ban while that case goes forward. Hutchinson said he supporters the ruling.

A recent survey found that 55% of Americans said they support the CDC’s recommendation that all students and staff wear masks in school regardless of vaccination status. The survey also found that 41% do not support it.

Masks work best when everybody wears them. Having some children wear masks and some not wear them won’t be as effective at stopping the spread of COVID.

Read: Where to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan in August: List of clinics


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.