School & District Management Interactive

Masks, Vaccines & Testing: How the Biggest City School Districts Operated in Fall 2021

By Tonya Harris — August 30, 2021 | Updated: June 08, 2022 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This page is no longer being updated. The data was last updated Sept. 16, 2021.

The 2021-22 school year was as challenging as the previous year for district leaders forced to make high-stakes decisions about student and employee health and safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continued.

This tracker followed key operating protocols and requirements for some of America’s largest school districts (plus, the Toronto, Ontario, district). All were members of the Council of the Great City Schools, which closely documented how its districts handled vaccine, mask, and coronavirus testing requirements.

Collectively, these school systems served about 8.2 million students, or roughly 15 percent of the U.S. public school enrollment. Across these districts, 44 percent of students were Hispanic, 27 percent were Black, 18 percent were white, 8 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2 percent were Alaskan/Native American. More than 70 percent qualified for free and reduced-price meals.*

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities—in numbers of infections, rates of death, job losses, and food and housing insecurity.

As of Sept. 15, 2021, 96% of the 74 member districts in the Council of the Great City Schools—some of the largest school districts in the U.S.—mandated masks in the classroom.

Search the table for the status and nuanced descriptions of what was happening in each school district.

    * These demographics include students in public schools in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, but not students in the Toronto district (a member of the Council in Ontario, Canada)

    Contact Information

    For media or research inquiries about this table and data, contact

    How to Cite This Page

    Harris, Tonya. Masks, Vaccines & Testing: How the Biggest City School Districts Operated in 2021-22 (2021, August 30). Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from


    This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
    School & District Management Webinar
    Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
    Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
    Content provided by Follett Learning
    School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
    Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
    This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
    Privacy & Security Webinar
    Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
    Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
    Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

    EdWeek Top School Jobs

    Teacher Jobs
    Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
    View Jobs
    Principal Jobs
    Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
    View Jobs
    Administrator Jobs
    Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
    View Jobs
    Support Staff Jobs
    Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
    View Jobs

    Read Next

    School & District Management How Principals Are Outsourcing Their Busywork to AI
    Principals are chipping away at their administrative to-do lists with a little help from AI.
    6 min read
    Education technology and AI Artificial Intelligence concept, Women use laptops, Learn lessons and online webinars successfully in modern digital learning,  Courses to develop new skills
    School & District Management Opinion How to Let Your Values Guide You as a School Leader
    Has your “why” become fuzzy? Here are four steps to keep principals motivated and moving forward.
    Damia C. Thomas
    4 min read
    Silhouette of a figure inside of which is reflected public school life, Self-reflection of career in education
    Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
    School & District Management ‘Be Vocal Without Being Vicious’: Superintendents on Fighting for More Funding
    Two superintendents talk about stepping into the political realm to call for more public school funding.
    5 min read
    Photo of dollar bills frozen in ice.
    iStock / Getty Images Plus
    School & District Management New Principals Have a Steep Learning Curve. Could Apprenticeships Help?
    North Dakota's leaders share what they've learned about creating a principal apprenticeship in a playbook aimed at other states
    5 min read
    Photo of principals walking in school hallway.