Mask mandates cover some, relax elsewhere. Science shows that masks work.

In Massachusetts, there are no mandatory school masks, except in health offices, and no covid testing requirements. But in Philadelphia, the school district mandates masks for everyone for the first 10 days. Other news outlets are reporting that Covid cases in schools are expected to rise.

The Boston Globe: Schools back away from masks as studies show they’re effective

Heading into a third fall of living with COVID-19, many schools and colleges are moving away from mandatory masks and telling students that face coverings are optional. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education made it official Monday, releasing fall guidance that informed families that “there is no longer a mandate for face coverings in schools (except for school health services) and no testing requirement for schools.” (Lazarus, 8/15)

Fox News: School District of Philadelphia mandates masks for first 10 days of school year, Prek K must wear masks year-round

The School District of Philadelphia mandates that students and staff wear masks for the first 10 days of the school year and requires kindergarteners to wear masks throughout the year. School district and city officials made the announcement in a letter to parents Friday, stating that after the first 10 days of the school year, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9, most schools will go mask-free. (Sabes, 8/12)

The Oklahoman: Oklahoma docs expect COVID cases to spike as students return to school

As Oklahoma children return to school, cases of COVID-19 are likely to increase, experts said. But families can take precautions to help their children stay healthy and stay in the classroom. The advice from experts is a lot like that during the pandemic: Get vaccinated, mask up and stay home when you’re sick. (Branham, 8/15)

AP: WVa provides free COVID tests, vaccines in schools

The West Virginia Health Agency has purchased 16 vans to provide free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at school and community events, officials said. … Schools interested in having a van come to an event should contact their local health department, the statement said. (8/16)

Other news on the spread of covid —

Stat: It’s going to be a tricky fall for Covid and flu vaccinations

For health officials who lead vaccination campaigns, this will be a complicated autumn. (Joseph, 8/16)

AP: NC governor signs order officially ending COVID-19 emergency

North Carolina’s state of emergency, giving state government emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, ended Monday as Gov. Roy Cooper formally ended it nearly 2 1/2 years after he first enacted his order. (Robertson, 8/15)

AP: Defense Secretary Austin tests positive for COVID for second time

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, is experiencing mild symptoms and will self-quarantine at home. This is the second time Austin has contracted the coronavirus. In a statement, Austin, 69, said he is fully vaccinated and has received two boosters. He said he will self-quarantine for the next five days in accordance with CDC guidelines and will “maintain all authorities and plan to maintain his normal work schedule virtually from home.” (8/15)

This is part of KHN’s Morning Briefing, a roundup of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for email subscription.

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