NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials say vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the new guidelines Friday.
The changes come after a growing national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in recent months in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
As for those who are not vaccinated, the CDC is continuing to ask them to consistently wear face coverings, especially indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The guidance generally leaves it to local officials to figure out how to ensure the unvaccinated are using precautions while letting those who are fully protected go mask-free.
The biggest questions will be at middle schools where some students are eligible for shots and others aren’t.
The CDC is also recommending that schools maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, officials say it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.