Early in the pandemic, all 50 state governors issued executive orders designed to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many of which aimed to mitigate disease transmission and facilitate the health system’s ability to respond to the increased resource demands. More recently, however, some state-level efforts, either through governors’ offices or state legislatures, have focused instead on limiting the authority of local policymakers related to COVID-19 mitigation. Perhaps most controversial among these policies have been state efforts banning local school districts from mandating mask wearing, despite evidence that masking is a key COVID-19 preventive measure. These recommendations directly oppose recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for universal masking in schools to support a return to in-person learning.

State actions to restrict masking requirements within schools present a critical public health challenge, and inadequate masking in schools has likely...

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