The Delta variant is feeding new surges in COVID-19 cases around the country weeks before school starts. On top of that, the majority of students in K-12 education are still not eligible for vaccines.

Even though the CDC released guidelines earlier this month easing mask policies in schools, nothing was binding. As with most masking and vaccination policies, states have been left to set their own rules. 

This can put superintendents of school districts in a tricky spot. In Rhode Island, some superintendents wish there was a state-level requirement so they didn’t have to be stuck in the middle of parents’ conflicting views. Other states fall on opposite ends of the extremes. In California, all students and teachers are required to wear masks, but in Texas, schools are banned from setting mask requirements. Vermont is an interesting case because, having reached an 80% vaccination status, schools can no longer require masking for any student, even the unvaccinated ones.

However, the U.S. Department of Transportation said masking is universally mandatory on school buses, but South Carolina’s Department of Education said students riding state-owned buses will no longer be required to mask up. 

Here’s a look at how schools across the country are handling masks for the upcoming 2021/2022 school year:

The situation is changing daily, and the map will be updated.

Maya Pottiger is a data journalist for Word in Black. She was previously a data journalist for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, where she earned both her BA and Master of Journalism. Her work has been featured...