Open schools, but everyone needs to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
That’s the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued Tuesday amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the nation, including in North Carolina where hospitalizations climbed over 1,000 Tuesday for the first time in more than two months.
The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for students, teachers, staff and visitors in K-12 schools. But students should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall, the CDC said.
The latest wave in cases and hospitalizations is attributed to the Delta variant, which the CDC said is more contagious than previous versions of the virus. While some breakthrough cases have occurred — that is vaccinated people testing positive — virtually all hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated, according to the CDC.
The new federal guidance from schools comes less than a week after Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, recommended that school districts require masks indoors for all students in elementary and middle schools. The state recommends that unvaccinated individuals in high schools, including students, wear masks.
“The Governor and state health officials will review changes to CDC guidance and he strongly encourages schools and businesses to enact important safety precautions and unvaccinated people to wear masks until they get their shots,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, before the CDC announcement.
The updated CDC guidance issued Tuesday matches guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which called for universal mask-wearing in schools earlier this month.
The percentage of positive coronavirus tests was above 10% for the first time since Feb. 1, the state reported Tuesday. In North Carolina, more than 94% of cases and deaths reported since May 6 have been among people who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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