Local districts are approaching the new guidance in different ways.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – New guidance from the CDC includes recommending everyone in K-12 wear masks in school, regardless of their vaccination status.

The pandemic kept students at Woodland Hills School District online for a year.

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“We went back in March, then we had a surge in the virus particularly at the high school, so we had to shut down for a few weeks again,” said Superintendent James Harris.

With the constant back and forth, Harris told KDKA safety is the number one priority when it comes to this year’s health and safety plan.

“Would you want to be in an enclosed space with people who have not been vaccinated with the virus out there? It isn’t safe even though we have great facilities with air filters, you are still in an enclosed space,” Harris said.

Masks will be required for anyone inside the school buildings. That’s the new recommendation put out by the CDC on Tuesday for K-12 grade schools, but not all districts think it’s the right move.

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“I do know we have to do everything to be safe but children without masks allows you to get to know those children and they can get to know each other because they grow and change,” said McKeesport School Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman.

Holtzman said the district made the decision in June for masks to be optional for staff and students, but that could change with the new recommendations.

“I think kids have had enough, to be honest. Kids are resilient and if the virus responded to children as it does to others, I could see the urgency. But when the data shows the lack of hospitalizations or deaths especially in children, I think you have to think about it differently,” Holtzman said.

Meanwhile across the county, Montour plans to keep the mask decision in the hands of the parents. Superintendent Chris Stone told KDKA a recent survey shows 75 percent of parents prefer their kids to go maskless so the district is looking at the recommendation as a suggestion.

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These changes are for K-12 schools, but what about universities? Duquesne University told KDKA with high vaccination rates in the community, it will not change its mask policy. As for Pitt, the administration told KDKA it will have to review the new recommendations before making any changes.