California to require face masks at schools this fall

California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall, despite new guidance issued Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings inside school buildings.

Ahead of new school guidelines expected next week, health officials in California said Friday that requiring face coverings will allow all schools to reopen this fall for full in-person instruction.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that not all schools can accommodate physical distancing of at least 3 feet or more, so the best preventive measure is wearing masks indoors.

The California Department of Public Health said in a statement that the mask requirement “also will ensure that all kids are treated the same,” without any stigma attached to those who are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

“We believe that with masking and with testing, we can get kids back to in person 100% in our schools,” Ghaly said.

Ghaly noted the CDC guidance released Friday says that when it is not possible to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance, “it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.”

The health department plans to release more detailed guidance for school reopening next week, said Ghaly.

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