UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Prince George's County Public School (PGCPS) will continue to mandate mask-wearing for all students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status, for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, according to Prince George's County school officials.
PGCPS CEO Dr. Monica Goldson announced the continuation of the mask policy at an annual gathering of school system principals and leaders on Monday, officials said.
Goldson said the school district's vaccination rate among students must increase before the school system considers removing the mask mandate. PGCPS is at about a 50% vaccination rate among students who qualify.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Goldson said that the school district would continue to follow CDC recommendations. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), masks should still be worn in the upcoming school year by any person age 2 and above who is not fully vaccinated. However, the agency said that certain school districts may see fit to adopt universal mask requirements depending on local pandemic conditions.
Maryland government officials have also strongly recommended mask-wearing, but ultimately they let the decision fall on each individual school system.
Before the end of the month, Prince George's County is hosting 11 mobile vaccination clinics at public schools to encourage students, teachers and parents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"With the emergence of the Delta variant, we definitely want our family, protected by all means necessary," said one father at a clinic at DuVal High School in Lanham, Maryland.
WUSA9's Scott Broom spoke to several students who were at the vaccine clinic to get their take on the county's mask mandate next year.
"I'm completely fine with it," one student who wished to remain anonymous said. "Honestly, I understand why we're doing it, because coronas not gone and the masks still help."
"It's kind of tiring when you're wearing a mask all day," another student said.
Masks will also be required inside all Prince George's County government buildings for employees starting Friday, Aug. 6.
Here's a list of mask policies for school districts in the DMV ahead of the start of in-person learning:
D.C. Public Schools (DCPS): Masks Required
DCPS will fully re-open to all students for in-person learning starting Aug.30, and all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings until further notice, as stated in DCPS's reopening portal.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS): Decision TBA
MCPS has not officially determined whether students will be required to wear masks for the 2021-2022 school year, but an official announcement on their updated policies is scheduled for July 27, as stated on the district's COVID portal.
Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS): Masks Required
Prince George's County Public School will continue to mandate mask-wearing for all students and staff for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, CEO Monica Goldson announced July 26.
Washington County Public Schools: Decision TBA
“Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) has communicated with our learning community that we are prepared to begin the 2021-2022 school year by following executive orders from the Office of the Governor and the State that are in effect at that time. We are committed to providing safe and healthy schools for our students and staff as was done with all students learning in person during the 2020-2021 school year. WCPS will continue following physical distancing recommendations, implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and encouraging healthy habits such as frequent handwashing and sanitizing. Our school families and staff can expect to learn more specific details regarding any additional health and safety precautions closer to the August 30th start date.”
Arlington Public Schools (APS): Masks Required Indoors
Although classroom capacities will return to pre-pandemic levels, APS will continue to mandate that all staff, students and visitors wear masks while inside buildings and school busses, as stated on the district's website. However, students with recess will no longer be required to wear face coverings while outdoors.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS): Masks Required
As of March 3, ACPS will still require all staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings while inside buildings or on school busses, as found in the district's COVID protocols booklet.
Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS): Decision TBA
The district has not officially determined whether students will be required to wear masks for the 2021-2022 school year.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS): Maks Required Indoors
FCPS announced their decision on July 28, one day after the CDC recommended masks be worn indoors at all schools.
"To ensure our schools stay open and safe this school year, FCPS will start the school year with universal masking. Masks will be worn at all times by both staff and students indoors and on school buses, but are not required when eating or when outside during recess, PE, or other activities. Universal masking is a critical factor in ensuring all students can return to our buildings, especially when social distancing is not possible and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations. We will be regularly reviewing our masking practices in line with updates to national, state and local health recommendations."
Prince William's County Public Schools (PWCPS): Decision TBA
The school district has not yet released detailed guidance on mask expectations and will update its policy based on CDC recommendations, as stated on the district's website. However, students using school busses will continue to be required to use face coverings.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS): Masks Required
LCPS will require all students and staff to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler announced Aug. 2 in a letter sent out to the school community.