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Children return to school with health protocols. Photo: Depositphotos
Children are returning to school with health protocols. Photo: Depositphotos

Going back to school under COVID-19

With back to school just around the corner, new regulations to protect children from COVID-19 are found around the country.

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Throughout the country, schools have been adopting different regulations to try to contain COVID-19 as children are going back to the classrooms. Several states led by the Republicans have imposed their own rules prohibiting districts from requiring the use of face masks.
 
A CNN analysis found that at least seven states prohibit districts from requiring masks in schools.
 
One of these states is Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis communicated through his office that the state board of education could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who ignore the decree that effectively prohibits the use of masks in school districts.
 
In addition, Governor DeSantis also prohibited the use of "vaccine passports" to frequented places in Florida, arguing that allowing this requirement would create two classes of citizens according to their vaccination status. This also applies to schools of the state.
 
"Florida's vaccine passport ban applies to schools, colleges and universities," Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, told CNN.
 
In Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia also announced its own mandate establishing the use of masks in schools in order to return safely to schools.
 
"The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has released its guidance on reopening schools that prioritizes the safe return of all students to face-to-face classes," said Superintendent William Hite.
 
In Arkansas, a judge temporarily blocked the law that prohibited the use of masks in schools in response to two lawsuits, one from a school district and one from parents, who want schools to be able to require masks if they want to.
 
Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama signed a law that states that "institutions may ask their students for a vaccination status card as a condition of attendance only for specific vaccines approved as of Jan. 1, 2021," which would not include the vaccines against coronavirus.
 
In Montana, a law signed by Governor Greg Gianforte in May says it is "an illegal discriminatory practice to refuse, deny or withhold" educational opportunities based on a person's immunization status.
 
For its part, California will become the first state to require all teachers and school personnel to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19, Governor Gavin Newsom announced.
 
"To give parents confidence that their children will be safe in schools with face-to-face classes, we are asking all academic staff to get vaccinated," Newsom said.
 
In Texas, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, school districts will not be required to do contact tracing, according to new guidelines issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The TEA mentions that "the transmission rate of COVID-19 in a classroom is very low."
 
The spread of the virus in schools

Experts on the subject have mentioned that going back to school can accelerate the spread of COVID-19 in states that do not comply with health protocols such as the use of face masks and social distancing.

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Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor School of Medicine, told CNN that "having mask-wearing mandates is not going to be enough" to prevent infections.

"We need all teens to be vaccinated, and we really have to move toward vaccination mandates for 12-17 year olds in schools," he said.

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