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The State of Delaware has extended its mask mandate for public and private K-12 schools until Feb. 8, 2022, in an effort to help curtail the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure students can continue to attend school in person. Officials are also continuing to urge people to get vaccinated, including children ages 5-11 now that vaccination has been approved for that age group.

Gov. John Carney, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) and the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) on Wednesday, Nov. 10, announced that the State of Delaware will extend the emergency masking requirement in public and private K-12 schools until Feb. 8, 2022.

The emergency masking regulation currently in effect is set to expire on Dec. 10, with an option to extend the order another 60 days. The extension will be formalized later this month. Separately, DOE and DHSS regulations previously proposed in the Register of Regulations will be amended and reposted without the masking requirements.

“Delaware children from kindergarten through high school are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, which will go a long way in protecting the health of students, educators and school communities statewide,” said Carney. “It’s our hope that, by February, we will be able to lift the state mask requirement.

“Our focus over the coming weeks and months will be on increasing Delaware’s vaccination rates. That’s how we’ll finally move past this pandemic. These vaccines are free, safe, and extremely protective against the COVID-19 virus. Getting the shot will keep Delaware’s children protected, and keep them in school. I’d encourage all eligible Delawareans to get their shot.”

More than 82 percent of all Delaware adults have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 60 percent of all Delawareans are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and now available to everyone ages 5 and older in Delaware. That’s really exciting,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “We know from the data that this vaccine does a great job protecting children from the COVID-19 virus and serious illness. Getting the COVID vaccine will also keep Delaware children in school, and prevent quarantines in the event of an exposure to the virus. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine and visit de.gov/getmyvaccine for more information.”

For more information about vaccines for Delaware children ages 5-11, visit https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine-information-for-ages-5-11/.