Jul 10, 2021 - Health

California to require masks in schools, despite new CDC guidance

Picture of a classroom with desks six feet apart that have glass barriers, people are seen wearing masks
A student carries his supplies as he is shown to his desk by a teacher at Sunkist Elementary School in Anaheim, CA. Photo: Paul Bersebach/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The California Department of Public Health announced on Friday that masks will continue to be required in schools, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance saying that fully vaccinated teachers and students do not need to wear masks inside school buildings when classes start in the fall.

  • The CDC's recommendations, which are not a mandate, say that there should be a physical distance of at least three feet between students. If such distance cannot be maintained, then prevention strategies such as indoor masking should be implemented.

What they're saying: "Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction," said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • "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."

The big picture: This is not the first time that the state decided not to follow federal guidance. When the CDC said in May that fully vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks indoors and outdoors, California waited a month to adopt the guidelines.

Worth noting: The state has been seeing an increase in coronavirus cases in some regions. Los Angeles County health officials said they saw a 165% increase in new cases from last week.

  • The state Capitol reimposed a mask mandate after nine staff members tested positive for the virus, including four people who were fully vaccinated.
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