American Parents Overwhelmingly Support Masks in Schools

COVID illustration

Brianna Gilmartin / Verywell Health

Key Takeaways

  • Verywell Health's latest vaccine sentiment survey finds that most parents plan on sending their kids with face masks to school this year.
  • Despite the popularity of mask-wearing for students, the topic has become entangled in political debates.
  • The Biden administration is helping school districts fight back against local mask bans.

As the Delta variant rages on, current COVID-19 cases are at their highest levels since last fall and winter. This spike in cases arrives just in time for back-to-school season, as thousands of children across the country transition to in-person schooling.

Parents of children under 12, who aren't yet eligible to get vaccinated, are worried about their kids catching COVID-19, Verywell Health's latest vaccine sentiment survey shows.

This data was gathered as a part of the Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker, a bi-weekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region, and consists of 2,000 Americans. We asked parents of school-aged kids about their stance on masks in the survey taken during the week ending August 27.

These worries aren't unfounded. Political debates around masks and vaccines have reached schools, making crucial safety precautions like masking a heated topic.

Yet, most American parents surveyed will still be sending their kids to school this fall with masks in tow—even if their schools don’t require it. 

Beyond masking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that schools enforce social distancing, testing, ventilation, handwashing, and contact tracing to keep students safe.

Most Parents Support Mask Mandates

In our survey, three-quarters (73%) of parents say they are at least somewhat concerned about their children getting COVID-19. A full third (35%) say they are extremely concerned. 

Currently, there is no national mask mandate for public schools. Without a national mandate, each of America's thousands of school districts is left to their own devices to parse through advice from local, state, and national governments.

But the advice overwhelmingly supports mandating masks in schools:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children over 2, school employees, and visitors should be required to wear masks in school, even if they’re vaccinated.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also supports universal masking in schools, even for those vaccinated against COVID-19.

Most parents are sending their kids back to school in the fall. More than half (62%) of those surveyed say it’s very likely that their children's school will require mask-wearing.

A majority of parents (84%) say they are planning to ask their kids to wear masks at school.

Despite this support, only 16 states (plus Washington, D.C.) are mandating mask-wearing in schools. Twenty-five states have no rules in place and leave the decision up to local school boards.

Governors in several states including Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah have tried to ban mask mandates in schools

President Biden’s administration is working to enable schools in areas with bans to create and enforce mask mandates for their students. 

Biden directed the Secretary of Education “to take additional steps to protect our children. This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal actions, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.” 

On September 9, Biden announced that the federal government will be offering financial help to school districts battling state mask mandate bans with a new grant program called Project SAFE (Supporting America's Families and Educators) directly from the Department of Education. This money can be used to pay educators' salaries in schools with mask mandates that are being penalized by governors.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools and ECE Programs.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools.

  4. U.S. News & World Report. School Mask Mandates by State | Best States.

By Jennifer Welsh
Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor with over ten years of experience under her belt. She’s previously worked and written for WIRED Science, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, LiveScience, and Business Insider.