In many states, requirements that students, customers, patrons, and employees wear facemasks in hope of stopping the spread of COVID-19 are a thing of the past. But not so in California, which will require all students to wear facemasks in K-12 schools for the next school year.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published a guidance on July 12 laying out the areas that the state is focusing on to get students back to “safe and full in-person instruction” next school year. These include vaccinations for all eligible individuals, targeted quarantine, and expansive COVID-19 testing and universal masking in schools.
“K-12 students are required to mask indoors,” the guidance from CDPH states. Limited exceptions will be made for medical reasons. “Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students,” it also notes.
The CDPH states that the guidance “applies CDC’s recommendations to the California context.”
However, it appears that it may not be in line with the “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools” published by the CDC on July 9.
That guidance states that facemasks only need to be worn indoors by those individuals who are not fully vaccinated.
“Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated,” the CDC notes. “Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
The CDPH issued the new guidance on Monday, which according to NBC News, originally mandated that “schools must exclude students from campus” if they did not comply with the mask mandate.
The guidance had been updated by Tuesday, which now notes that “schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering.”
The CDPH said in a tweet that “California’s school guidance will be clarified regarding masking enforcement, recognizing local schools’ experience in keeping students and educators safe while ensuring schools fully reopen for in-person instruction.”
And yet, even though schools will be given more latitude as to how the mask mandate will be implemented, schools won’t have discretion on whether or not to require masks. That is still mandated by CDPH.
Some families many feel more comfortable sending their children to school with the mask requirement in place. Others, however, may be concerned that masks could do more harm than good.
For example, a group of Florida parents sent recently worn facemasks to the University of Florida for lab testing. The lab found 11 different “dangerous pathogens” on the masks, including those responsible for Pneumonia, Meningitis, Diphtheria and Lyme disease.
Over the past year and a half, many citizens have done their best to “follow the science.” However, when different government agencies contradict each other, as it appears the CDC and CDPH do in this case, people are left wondering which science they should follow.
You can follow this author on Parler @ZacharyMettler
Photo from Shutterstock