Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #295: September 2, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • A vaccine requirement for some healthcare workers in Massachusetts
  • A mask mandate in Pennsylvania schools
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Tuesday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) issued an order exempting schools and daycare centers with consistent mask usage from quarantine requirements. The exemption applies to a student, staff member, or teacher who is a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, but shows no symptoms.    

Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that staff at long-term care facilities would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 31. Baker said the requirement would also apply to home care workers who provide in-home care. 

Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, ​​Oklahoma County District Court Judge Natalie Mai temporarily blocked the Oklahoma Department of Education from enforcing Senate Bill 658, which prohibits school mask requirements. Several Oklahoma parents and the Oklahoma State Medical Association sued to block enforcement of the law on Aug. 12. 

Pennsylvania (divided government): On Aug. 31, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced masks would be required in all public and private K-12 schools starting Sept. 7.

South Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) ordered nine National Guardsmen to assist in COVID-19 testing efforts in the western part of the state, including Meade County, which has seen a rise in coronavirus cases.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 31 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 1, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

We last looked at school mask requirements on Aug. 26. Since then, school mask requirement bans were temporarily suspended in Oklahoma and Florida. Additionally, school mask requirements were issued in New York and Pennsylvania.

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, state governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements in their states. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof-of-vaccination. Other states have assisted in the creation of digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  


  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 

Since Aug. 26, no state has banned proof-of-vaccination requirements or rolled out a vaccine status application. 

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 1, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said unvaccinated people should not travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
  • On Aug. 30, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) opened investigations in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Investigators will seek to determine whether statewide bans on indoor mask requirements in schools violate the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects children with disabilities from discrimination. The OCR said it was concerned that mask bans could affect students with disabilities that cause underlying health conditions. The OCR also announced it would investigate whether the indoor mask requirements violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.