California will continue to require masks in school settings, state health officials announced Friday, even though federal health authorities released new guidelines saying vaccinated students and teachers no longer need to wear masks inside campus buildings.
“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. “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 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also said schools should try and keep desks three feet apart, are not a mandate. The CDC guidance said prevention strategies, including indoor masking, should be utilized when it’s not possible to maintain a distance of at least three feet in the classroom.
Ghaly said that not all school facilities in the state can accommodate physical distancing and “we will align with the CDC by implementing multiple layers of mitigation strategies, including continued masking and robust testing capacity.” The state’s directive would also “ensure that all kids are treated the same,” the California Department of Public Health said.