Welcome to the Wednesday, August 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year
- Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August
- Redistricting Roundup
Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year
Schools are coming back into session across the country. Here’s an update on state-by-state mask rules:
- 13 states require staff and students to wear face-coverings in schools for the upcoming year.
- 30 states have left school mask decisions up to local authorities,
- 7 states—Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah—have banned school mask requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance for K-12 schools on Aug. 5 that said, “safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall [of] 2021 is a priority,” and recommended “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
Here are a few developments regarding mask requirements in schools in three states:
Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The ban on school mask requirements was passed as a budget amendment during the 2021 regular legislative session.
Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. If a parent or guardian provides written notification to school authorities, a student will not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.
Texas: The state supreme court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ban on mask requirements. Abbott issued an executive order on May 18 prohibiting government entities from requiring masks.
The map below identifies the status of face-covering requirements in schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Nevada’s school mask requirement only applies to districts with more than 100,000 residents, and New Mexico’s only applies to unvaccinated individuals and all individuals in elementary school.
Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August
Six recall efforts targeting local school board members in four states—Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Wisconsin—must submit petitions this month to move their efforts forward. Here is a brief summary of these recalls and the reasons supporters have given for each effort. Click on the links provided to learn more:
- Vail Unified School District Governing Board (Ariz.)—Recall supporters say the board members targeted have shown disregard for parents, teachers, staff, and students.
- Benicia Unified School District (Calif.)—Recall supporters said the board members’ actions had negative consequences on students and that they failed to represent their constituents.
- West Sonoma County Union High School District (Calif.)—Recall supporters cited the board’s vote to consolidate two high schools.
- Fargo Public Schools (N.D.)—Recall supporters cited school boundary line changes, mask mandates, treatment of teachers, hybrid schooling, use of federal funds, lack of communication, and the belief that some school board members want to incorporate critical race theory into the curriculum.
- Mequon-Thiensville School District (Wisc.)—Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members.
- Waupaca School District (Wisc.)—Recall supporters cited the board member’s behavior at a board meeting as the reason for the recall.
Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 58 efforts against 144 members as of Aug. 12. This is the highest number of recalls since we began tracking them in 2010.
The Virginia Redistricting Commission voted on Aug. 16 to officially begin the state’s redistricting process on Aug. 26. The commission is expected to receive data that an outside consultant is reformatting by that date. The Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12.
Virginia law requires that the commission submit proposed state legislative maps to the General Assembly within 45 days of receiving census data and proposed congressional district boundaries within 60 days. This means the commission will propose new state legislative districts by Oct. 10 and congressional districts by Oct. 25. When adopted, the new congressional map will take effect for the 2022 U.S. House elections, and new state legislative districts will be used in 2023. This year’s state legislative elections will continue to use maps that were enacted after the 2010 census.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission announced on Aug. 13 that it had scheduled 10 public hearings across the state. The hearings will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily between Aug. 23 and Aug. 27 at eight colleges and universities.