Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks indoors, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Students under the age of 12 who can’t be vaccinated will need to continue to wear masks indoors. They won’t have to wear them outside at recess. 

But the guidance is likely to pose some struggles for middle schools that will have mixed populations of children who are and aren’t vaccinated. 

“Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households,” the guidance states.

At the same time the CDC is not advising schools to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for teachers or students. There’s also no guidance as to how to determine whether a teacher or student is vaccinated. 

Connecticut’s largest teacher union applauded the guidance. 

“Safety is and must remain a top priority as we return to all in-person classes in the fall, and we urge all school districts to follow the CDC’s new guidance to ensure that everyone in our school communities is safe,” Connecticut Education Association President Jeff Leake said. 

The CDC still recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. 

“When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking,” it added. 

“The new guidelines underscore the need for consistent prevention strategies in school settings,

especially those with unvaccinated individuals, and strategies include mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, cleaning protocols, and adequate ventilation to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” Leake said. “We must all work together to advocate for policies that prioritize safety, especially for our most vulnerable students.”