Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will require masks to be worn in its schools as classes are set to begin in late August.
In a letter to parents from CPS’s Interim Chief Executive Officer José Torres on Thursday, he said that masks would be required regardless of a person’s vaccination status based on the feedback of local, state and federal public health experts.
The mandate would apply to students, teachers, additional school staff and any visitors.
“Continuing to require masks will help make sure those in our school communities who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which encompasses the majority of our students, remain as safe as possible,” Torres said in his letter.
The letter lays out additional COVID-19 measures that CPS is taking, including social distancing and dividing students between classrooms and the cafeteria during lunch hours to spread them out.
The measure comes as more cities and organizations are reconsidering implementing masking policies as pockets of the country are seeing a surge of cases in unvaccinated areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyFDA panel endorses COVID-19 booster shots for older Americans, rejects widespread use Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows MORE said on Tuesday that the delta variant of the coronavirus was responsible for 83 percent of sequenced COVID-19 cases in the United States.
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently only approved for Americans aged 12 and up, though trials have already begun by Pfizer and Moderna to test the vaccine in children under 12 years old. According to CDC data, nearly 66 percent of U.S. residents aged 12 and up have received one dose of the vaccine, and 57 percent are fully vaccinated.
Most recently, Los Angeles County reimplemented its indoor mask mandate. However, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanuev said in a statement last week that he would not enforcing the mandate, saying the measure was “not backed by science.”
“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Villanueva said in a statement.
“We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science,” he added.