Masks required in all schools & state buildings starting Monday
Gov. John Carney is bringing back mask mandates for schools and state facilities.
Following CDC guidance and after talking to school districts, Carney announced a mask mandate for all K-12 schools - public and private - as well as child care centers It takes effect on Monday, August 16th.
Carney says this decision was made to help standardize regulations statewide.
“Everyone is focused on protecting the children and trying to quash the virus before it spreads like it has in Arkansas and Florida and some of the other states," said Carney. "We don’t want to get to that place.”
Everyone kindergarten age and above must wear a mask in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Masks for those between 2 years old and kindergarten at child care centers are strongly encouraged.
Student athletes are also required to wear masks indoors for practice and games, but Carney adds that requirement doesn’t extend outdoors, where transmission is lower, and the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association is free to impose further restrictions on student athletes if they choose.
Carney doesn’t expect students to have many issues with the mandates.
“The children, the students, they adapt more easily to mask wearing than we do as adults frankly,” he said. “And sometimes we as adults wanna impose our reservations on children who’ve been much more flexible, I think, in wearing masks.”
The Delaware GOP Senate Caucus released a statement in opposition to the new mandates, focusing on the blanket mandate for all Delaware schools.
“Local control is the best solution for decisions such as this. School board members, who are duly elected and must answer to their constituents, know their districts well and are capable of making these decisions in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health.”
Carney says masks will also be required at all state facilities also starting on Monday the 16th. All staff and visitors will need to wear a face mask, regardless of vaccination status to state run buildings such as the Carvel Office Building.
He says these mandates build on what we’ve learned from the past year.
“We’d like to get ahead of it this time as opposed to what happened last spring where we're chasing it up and try to quash it down by requiring some of those mitigation efforts that we knew worked,” Carney said.
He says these restrictions are needed because a large number of Delaweareans remain unvaccinated, noting getting those people shots could play a role in ending these mask mandates.
Carney adds a decision about vaccination and testing requirements for state employees and others is coming in the next few days.
Carney said last week he was considering only requiring vaccinations for state employees in high risk jobs, such as correctional officers and those that work with the public.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.