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COVID and School – Rules Vary Across the Nation

From masks to vaccines, different states have different requirements.

By:  |  October 10, 2021  |    709 Words
GettyImages-1234721765 back to school

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The start of a new school year is a lot more complicated since the COVID pandemic spread across the world. Different regions across the United States have their own approaches when it comes to school and COVID. It’s a controversial issue, with many people in disagreement over the best way to handle the virus. Let’s take a look at three areas to see what rules they have put in place to deal with coronavirus in school.

New York

The city of New York has been in the spotlight due to rules that all school staff must be vaccinated. Teachers and other school staff in New York City needed to get vaccinated at the beginning of October or lose their jobs. Teachers who didn’t obey the rule would be placed on unpaid leave, and the city planned to bring in substitute teachers to take over for them.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that about nine out of ten teachers had received at least one vaccine by the start of the month.

GettyImages-1234721830 back to school

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

People in the city disagreed on whether the rule was a good idea or a bad one. “It’s safer for our kids,” said Joyce Ramirez, whose kids attend an elementary school in the Bronx. Mally Diroche, another Bronx parent, wasn’t so sure, saying, “I kind of feel like that’s a decision they should be able to make on their own.”

Maurice Jones, who works at a Manhattan middle school, said people should be given the option to get tested for COVID, instead of being forced to have the shot. “If they’ve got to get tested more they’ve got to get tested more,” Jones said. “I don’t think they should lose their job.”

One teacher, Roxanne Rizzi, said she didn’t want to be vaccinated, but that she got the shot because she was worried about losing money if she was fired. “I had to do it for the finances of my family,” she said.

There are some worries that schools in New York will suffer from staffing shortages due to the rule.

California

Teachers aren’t the only ones who may have mandatory vaccination. California announced a plan to mandate vaccines for all students who want to attend school in person – but the plan will only go ahead once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves vaccines for kids.

“I believe we’ll be the first state in America to move forward with this mandate and requirement,” said Governor Gavin Newsom at a school in San Francisco.

The rule would be applied first to middle and high school students, then elementary school students later on.

The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 16 and over, but use for 12- to 15-year-olds only has emergency approval. Once there’s full approval for the younger age group, California will require school students to be vaccinated.

There will be exemptions allowed for religious, medical, and personal beliefs, said the governor.

Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is of the view that schools should not be able to force students to wear masks or get vaccinated. DeSantis told the Florida Department of Health to put a ban on student mask mandates, saying the state must “protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.”

According to his order, school board members can be fined if they order student mask-wearing in schools.

The ban has been controversial. It was challenged in court – at first it was ruled to be illegal, but then an appeals court said the ban would be allowed, at least for now.

The court “reinstated Florida’s ability to protect the freedom for parents to make the best decisions for their children,” said Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis.

Alachua County is one school district still mandating masks in schools. Even though school board members are not getting paid due to their decision, the county said it would “continue to enforce universal masking in our schools.”

Who is right? Should all school students be made to wear masks to protect public health, or should pupils and families have the right to make that choice for themselves?

Try a quiz based on this article!

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