CDC to recommend masks for all at K-12 schools; Ohio releases new school guidance

COLUMBUS — The CDC is expected to recommend that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status, according to a report from CNN.

MORE: CDC to recommend masks be worn in schools regardless of vaccination status, report says

The announcement comes as the Ohio Department of Health released updated guidance for back to school that strongly recommends those who are unvaccinated should wear masks, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state’s chief medical officer.

It was not clear if the CDC announcement will change Ohio’s plans, however ODH said it “will await any revised recommendations from the CDC and review them at that time,” a spokeswoman said.

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The new guidance was released this morning and does not include any mandates. Vanderhoff did not say whether Senate Bill 22, which severely limits the department of health’s ability to create emergency health orders, led to the decision to recommend instead of mandate.

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“The safety for Ohio’s children is paramount,” Vanderhoff said. “They’re not invincible...just like adults, children get sick from COVID-19.”

Vanderhoff said the guidance will include a strong recommendation for anyone unvaccinated to wear masks indoors, but generally does not require masks outdoors.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available to anyone ages 12 and older.

The guidance comes as Ohio is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant continues its spread in the state.

“All signs point to this increase in cases being from the Delta variant,” Vanderhoff said. “It simply takes less of this virus to spread from the mouth.”

The state has seen an increase in cases per 100,000 residents increase from 17.6 to 45.8 since July 7.

In addition to mask recommendations, the guidance also strongly recommends vaccinations for staff and eligible students. It also will include additional recommendations including maximizing distance and ventilation.