Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that everyone kindergarten-age and older in K-12 schools and child care homes and centers must wear face coverings indoors effective on Monday, August 16 – regardless of vaccination status. The requirement covers both public and private schools in Delaware. Child care centers and homes are strongly encouraged to require masks for children 2 years old to kindergarten inside their facilities to prevent spread of COVID-19. Children younger than 2 years old should not wear masks due to risk of suffocation.
The statewide mask requirement in schools, which will be formalized later this week, is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and will help all Delaware students safely return to classrooms full-time this fall for the 2021-2022 school year. Children younger than 12 remain ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination at this time.
As of Monday, August 9, 73.7 percent of Delaware adults, and 71.6 percent of those 12 and older, have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit de.gov/getmyvaccine to find a free COVID-19 vaccination provider near you.
“There's no higher priority than getting all Delaware children back in their classrooms full-time this fall,” said Governor Carney. “This consistent, statewide approach will help students, educators and staff return to school safely and without disruption. Vaccination remains the best way to finally put an end to this pandemic. These COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe, and highly effective against COVID-19 infection and serious illness. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, consider it. Talk to your doctor and your friends who have received their shot. That’s how we’ll keep students in classrooms and keep moving forward.”
Additionally, Governor Carney announced Tuesday that state employees and visitors to Delaware state facilities must wear masks indoors, consistent with CDC guidance, starting Monday, August 16. This applies to all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status. Additional requirements around vaccination and testing for state employees and others are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Governor Carney on Tuesday also formally extended the Public Health Emergency order in place to allow the State of Delaware and medical providers to continue COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs. Under Delaware law, Public Health Emergency declarations must be renewed every 30 days.
In a statement after the Governor's announcement, Senators Hocker, Pettyjohn, Bonini, Wilson, Lawson, and Richardson noted their strong disagreement with the state imposed mask mandate for school students and staff. The Senators state that "School districts should have the discretion to implement or remove such a policy. A district with little to no community spread should not be subjected to the same policy as one where the spread is high.
"It is critical when making public policy to take into account not only the initial risks, but also the long-term consequences of that policy. Unquestionably, remote learning and mask mandates have been detrimental to the education of Delaware school children.
"Local control is the best solution for decisions such as this. School board members, who are duly elected and must answer to their constituents, know their districts well and are capable of making these decisions in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health."