Nebraska’s largest school district to consider mask mandate

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s largest school district will consider requiring people to wear masks inside its buildings as the state sees an increase in new COVID-19 cases.

The Omaha Board of Education scheduled a special meeting for Monday night to discuss masks. The meeting was announced Friday only hours after the Omaha Education Association called on the district to require masks, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The teachers’ union said in a letter that increases in cases are driven by the spread of the more contagious delta variant and vaccination rates are lagging.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported Saturday that 49.9% of the state’s 2 million residents are fully vaccinated. That’s close to the national figure of 50.1%, but five New England states top 60%.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said in its weekly COVID-19 report Wednesday that Nebraska saw 1,976 new cases and 33 new and active hospitalizations during the previous week.

If approved by the Omaha board, the mask rule would be similar to requirements during the last school year. The Douglas County Health Department recommended Tuesday that everyone in local schools wear masks.

The Omaha district has nearly 52,000 students, or 14.4% of the state’s 360,000 K-12 students.