States Are Dropping School Mask Requirements. Here’s the Latest and What’s Ahead

By Stacey Decker & Holly Peele — February 28, 2022 2 min read
Students wearing masks leave the New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) school in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Dec. 21, 2021, in New York.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

At one point this school year, 18 states required masks in school. As of today, it’s nine. By the end of this week, only five states and the District of Columbia will still mandate universal masking in schools. (That’s assuming there are no other developments.)

In February, as the wave of COVID-19 infections related to the omicron variant began to subside, officials in states that required masks began announcing plans to end them. These announcements accelerated after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released relaxed masking guidelines last Friday.

When states get rid of their mask policies, it puts the onus on district leaders to decide whether or not to require students and staff to mask up. In some states, leaders don’t have that option, because of bans in place that prevent them from instituting universal mask requirements.

Another potential complication: In some places, there are ongoing court cases that could impact the state’s policy.

Education Week has been monitoring state-level mask policies this school year. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening now and in the weeks ahead:

The latest

  • On Friday, the CDC relaxed its mask guidance. Now, universal masking in public settings, including schools, is only recommended in areas with high risk of serious illness or strained health-care resources.
  • Since the release of the new CDC guidance:
    • School mask requirements in Connecticutand Massachusettswere lifted on Monday, as scheduled.
    • The governors of Delaware, Illinois,and New York announced their mask mandates will end this week. (Illinois’ requirement, however, had already been put on hold by a judge.)
    • The governors of California, Oregon, and Washingtonissued a joint announcement that mask requirements would end in their states effective March 12.

What’s ahead

  • On Tuesday, March 1, school mask mandates in Maryland will be lifted.
  • Also on Tuesday, a ban on school mask mandates in Virginia goes into effect. (Worth noting: Virginia does have counties that fall into the CDC’s high-risk-level category, as do the four other states that currently ban districts from requiring masks.)
  • Also on Tuesday, Delaware’s mask mandate will lift at 6 p.m.
  • On Wednesday, New York’s requirement will be lifted.
  • On Friday, Rhode Island’s mandate will expire.
  • On March 7, New Jersey‘s requirement will be lifted.
  • On March 12, mask requirements will end in California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Only one state, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia have yet to set an end date for their school mask requirements.

Want to know your state’s policy? Education Week is tracking state policies on masking in school here.


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

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

States Opinion A Bipartisan Agenda for Schools Is Absolutely Possible
A set of opportunity-to-learn principles can guide policymakers, write a current Iowa state senator and a former Arkansas state senator.
Joyce Elliott & Amy Sinclair
3 min read
Illustration of students and hands.
Robert Neubecker for Education Week
States Opinion Nine Guiding Principles to Advance Public Education
The Opportunity to Learn principles offer a road map for education stakeholders to reenvision public education through shared values and approaches.
1 min read
Illustration of school and government buildings with girl
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
States Opinion A New Road Map for Education’s Future
States need to promote and track access to opportunities that have support across the aisle, according to a diverse group of policymakers.
Lorén Cox & Ross Wiener
3 min read
Illustration of map and school building.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
States Florida Just Expanded the 'Don't Say Gay' Law. Here's What You Need to Know
The Florida board of education voted to extend the state's ban on instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation to all grades.
3 min read
An estimated 200 people marched from Westcott Fountain to the Florida Capitol, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla., to express their opposition to HB 1069, an expansion on the "Don't Say Gay" bill from last session.
An estimated 200 people marched from Westcott Fountain to the Florida Capitol, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla., to express their opposition to HB 1069, an expansion on the "Don't Say Gay" bill from last session.
Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP