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
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This page is no longer being updated.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

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    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 https://www.edweek.org/leadership/masks-vaccines-testing-how-the-biggest-city-school-districts-are-operating-this-year/2021/08

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