CDC says all students, teachers should wear masks, as should diners

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By Yana Kunichoff | Arizona Republic

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course on its indoor mask guidance Tuesday, advising all school staff and students to wear masks inside, regardless of vaccination status. But schools in Arizona won’t see any policy changes.

That’s because the advice is at odds with a state law passed this summer that prohibits school districts from requiring masks or vaccinations — and that law will remain in place, Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday.

The CDC updated its recommendations Tuesday in light of the growing number of COVID-19 cases attributed to the delta variant.

The agency is now recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors inside schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, aligning closely with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended this month that anyone older than 2 be required to wear a mask in school.

Related: Masks in restaurants, bars

Scientists cited new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people.

Ducey on Tuesday highlighted his ongoing plea for Arizona residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations are currently available for students and adults, but not children younger than 12.

“Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated, “Today’s announcement by the CDC will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials.”

Governor Doug Ducey

The goal behind the new CDC guidance may be to protect both the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated, health experts say, especially vaccinated individuals who may be immunocompromised and children younger than 12 who aren’t yet eligible to get their shots.

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