On Friday, state health officials in California announced that masks will be required in school settings. Earlier the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had announced that masks were not required inside campus buildings for those who were fully vaccinated.
Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary said that masking was a simple and effective intervention. It didn’t interfere with in-person instruction. He added that at the beginning of a new year students needed to be able to walk into school without feeling different or getting singled out depending on their vaccinated status. He said that a calm and supportive school environment would be created when all kids were treated the same.
Although the CDC has asked that schools should try to maintain a distance of three feet between desks, it has not been mandated. Ghaly said that some of the schools in the state may not be able to comply with social distancing of three feet.
He said that they were looking to implement multiple layers of mitigation strategies such as masking and robust testing. The department has emphasized that it would make sure that all kids will be treated in the same manner.
Erin Sauber-Schatz, CDC task force leader who recommends guidelines to keep Americans safe from COVID-19, Said that the agency guidance is written in such a manner that it allows flexibility at a local level.
Children with disabilities who cannot wear masks or manage them safely can ask for the right of accommodation that allows a child to remain unmasked. The Los Angeles Unified School District only allows those who have physical or special reasons not to wear mask including students and others.
As of now it is not mandatory for children to be vaccinated. Vaccines are not available for those who are below 12 and it may take years for such vaccines to receive approval by the FDA and other relevant agencies, following which vaccinations might become mandatory.
Ventilation and hand washing remain a requirement. It is also essential that those who fall ill remain at home, whether they are students or teachers. Masks may not be required at most outdoor situations unless there is a crowd. It might not be required at recess.