California plans to require masks for all students in the fall despite guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated students and teachers don’t need to wear them amid proper physical distancing.
State health officials said the requirement will allow for full-time in-person learning and for all students to be treated the same, whether they’re vaccinated or not.
Not all schools are able to accommodate three feet of social distancing as the CDC recommends, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. The CDC’s new guidance says that masks should be worn if social distancing can’t be achieved.
CDC SAYS SCHOOLS SHOULD OPEN IN FALL, RECOMMENDS MASKS FOR UNVACCINATED
“Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction,” Ghaly said, according to FOX 11 in Los Angeles. “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.”
“Treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”
Children as young as 12 are now eligible to receive the vaccine and younger children may be by the end of the year.
The CDC has advised schools against requiring vaccines for teachers and eligible children, according to FOX 11.
“It would be a very weird dynamic, socially, to have some kids wearing masks and some not,” Elizabeth Stuart, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, said, according to the station. “And tracking that? Teachers shouldn’t need to be keeping track of which kids should have masks on.”
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Schools have been shown to be lower centers of transmission than other locations, FOX 11 reported.
“We applaud the CDC’s commitment to ensuring that schools are fully, safely opened for in-person instruction,” Ghaly added, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Given California’s science-based approach and the fact that the state’s school facilities can’t accommodate physical distancing, we will align with the CDC by implementing multiple layers of mitigation strategies, including continued masking and robust testing capacity.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.