California has walked back a rule banning unmasked students and teachers from school campuses this fall. While a state mandate requiring masks will remain in effect, the Newsom administration will leave enforcement in the hands of local districts when it comes to those who refuse to mask up.
“Update: California’s school guidance will be clarified regarding masking enforcement, recognizing local schools’ experience in keeping students and educators safe while ensuring schools fully reopen for in-person instruction,” the California Department of Public Health tweeted on Tuesday.
UPDATE: California’s school guidance will be clarified regarding masking enforcement, recognizing local schools’ experience in keeping students and educators safe while ensuring schools fully reopen for in-person instruction.
— CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) July 13, 2021
This comes after the department’s initial July 12 update stated that “Schools must exclude students from campus if they are not exempt from wearing a face covering under California Dept. of Public Health guidelines and refuse to wear one provided by the school.”
Yet, despite the update leaving enforcement in the hands of local officials, the state’s mandate still breaks with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which on Friday said that students and faculty who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks in school.
“Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated,
reads the CDC’s announcement. “Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained,” (via Just The News).
School officials are said to be preparing specific guidelines in response, according to the Epoch Times.
“We’re committed to full-time, in-person instruction when the new semester begins,” said Long Beach Unified School District spoeksperson, Chris Eftychiou. “We appreciate that the newest guidance supports our commitment to in-person learning. As we approach the Aug. 31 start of the new school year, we’ll continue monitoring masking guidance in partnership with Long Beach Health and Human Services before establishing more specific protocols.”
More via the Epoch Times:
Last week, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said masks would remain a requirement for campuses statewide—despite federal guidance stating that fully vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings in school buildings.
The Los Angeles Unified School District did not immediately comment on the statements from the CDPH, but the district recently approved a contract amendment with the United Teachers Los Angeles union that also requires mask-wearing.
When the LAUSD begins its fall semester Aug. 16—offering in-person instruction for all students—masks will be required for “all students, staff and visitors” over age two at district sites and on buses, according to current rules.
The LAUSD’s current practices also include instruction and reinforcement of proper hygiene, with hand-washing breaks built into daily schedules. The district will also maintain physical distancing, with the
“standard goal” of six feet.
Under the CDPH’s latest mask guidance, masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings. Students are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance. Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students.
People exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.
Schools must develop and implement local protocols to provide a face covering to students who inadvertently fail to bring a face covering to school to prevent unnecessary exclusions.
Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements.
Additionally, under the CDPH guidance, schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering. Public schools should be aware of the requirements in AB 130 to offer independent study programs for the 2021-22 school year.
In limited situations where a face covering cannot be used for pedagogical or developmental reasons, such as communicating or assisting young children or those with special needs, a face shield with a drape can be used instead of a face covering while in the classroom as long as the wearer maintains physical distance from others. Staff must return to wearing a face covering outside of the classroom.
Guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is billed only as a set of recommendations designed to “supplement—not replace” local rules and regulations.
It recommends multiple layers of infection prevention, such as encouraging vaccinations, social distancing of at least three feet between students along with mask-wearing by students and staff who are not vaccinated.
“We applaud the CDC’s commitment to ensuring that schools are fully, safely opened for in-person instruction,” Ghaly said last week. “Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction. At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinated—treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”