Mask mandates cover some, relax elsewhere. Science Shows Masks Work.

In Massachusetts, there is no school mask mandate, except in health offices, and no requirement for Covid testing. But in Philadelphia, the school district requires masks for everyone for the first 10 days. Other media reports that cases of Covid in schools are expected to increase.

Boston Globe: Schools move away from masks as studies suggest they are effective

Heading into a third slump of living with COVID-19, many schools and colleges are ditching mask mandates and telling students that face coverings are optional. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education made it official Monday, releasing fall guidance informing families “there is no longer a statewide masking mandate in schools (except for school health offices) and there is no testing requirement for schools.” . (Lazarus, 15/8)

Fox News: School District of Philadelphia mandates masks for first 10 days of school year, Pre-K must wear masks year-round

The School District of Philadelphia is mandating that students and staff wear masks for the first 10 days of the school year and requires kindergarteners to wear masks throughout the year. Officials from the school district and city made the announcement in a letter to parents Friday, saying that after the first 10 days of the school year, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9, most schools will go with masks. (Sabes, 8/12)

The Oklahoman: Oklahoma docs expect COVID cases to rise as students return to school

As Oklahoma children return to school, cases of COVID-19 are likely to increase, experts said. But families can take precautions to help their children stay well and stay in class. The advice from experts sounds a lot like it did during the pandemic: Get vaccinated, mask up and stay home when you’re sick. (Branham, 8/15)

AP: WVa provides free COVID tests, vaccinations in schools

A West Virginia health agency has purchased 16 vans to offer free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at school and community events, officials said. … Schools interested in having a van come to an event should contact their local health department, the statement said. (8/16)

In other news regarding the spread of Covid –

Statistics: It’s going to be a tricky fall for Covid and Flu vaccines

For health officials running vaccination campaigns, it will be a tricky fall. (Josef, 16/8)

AP: NC Governor signs order officially ending COVID-19 emergency

North Carolina’s state of emergency giving the state government extraordinary powers to handle the COVID-19 pandemic is ending Monday after Gov. Roy Cooper officially ended it nearly 2 1/2 years after he signed his first executive order. (Robertson, 8/15)

AP: Defense Secretary Austin positive for COVID for second time

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, is experiencing mild symptoms and will be quarantined at home. It is the second time that Austin has been infected with the coronavirus. In a statement, Austin, 69, said he is fully vaccinated and has received two boosters. He said he will quarantine for the next five days in accordance with CDC guidelines and “maintain all authorities and plan to maintain my normal work schedule virtually from home.” (8/15)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a roundup of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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