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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.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Oct 17, 2021 - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.