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Delaware Requiring All Students In Grades K-12 Wear Masks Regardless Of Vaccination Status

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) -- Delaware is requiring its students in grades K-12 to wear masks while indoors at schools regardless of their vaccination status beginning next week. Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday the new mask requirement will begin on Monday, Aug. 16.

He says the requirement covers both public and private schools across the state.

Child care centers and homes are strongly encouraged to require masks for children 2 years old to kindergarten inside their facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but children under age 2 should not wear masks due to the risk of suffocation.

This new mandate is to keep the state consistent with guidance from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and to keep students safe as they return to the classroom full-time for the 2021-2022 school year.

"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," said Gov. Carney. "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."

CBS3 sat down with Gov. Carney to discuss the masking policy. He says it's coming at a critical point.

"We felt like we needed a mitigation tool to help tamp down the spread in our state," Governor Carney tells Eyewitness News.

Children under age 12 are still ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time. People who spoke with CBS3 are mixed on the decision but say protecting children is the top priority.

One parent says, "I think it's a good idea. As long as we're having this problem with the corona, then protect the kids."

Savannah Mitchell of Wilmington says, "I don't love the idea, but if it's what's going to keep our kids safe, I guess I'm OK with it."

Carney tells CBS3 the main goal is to get children safely back in classrooms.

"One of our primary objectives is to get our students back in school for in-person instruction," he says.

Carney also announced Tuesday that state employees and visitors to Delaware state facilities must wear masks indoors beginning Monday, Aug. 16.

This applies to everyone regardless of their vaccination status.

Additional requirements around vaccination and testing for state employees and others are expected to be announced sometime this week.

CBS3's Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.

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