SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- California public health officials said in a release Monday that K-12 students attending class on campus will be required to wear a mask indoors for the 2021-2022 school year.
The state's guidance update follows the CDC's announcement last week that vaccinated teachers and students can attend campus classes without having to wear a face covering. California, however, later announced that it would continue to require face coverings in schools.
According to the guidance published Monday, masks are still optional outdoors at K-12 schools, but students and adults sharing spaces with students in K-12 schools will be required to wear masks indoors unless they have an approved exemption.
People who are exempt from wearing a face covering will also be required to wear a face shield, as long as their condition permits.
Schools must be able to provide a face covering if a student accidentally forgets to bring one. Students who will not wear a mask will not be allowed to attend class on campus, the guidance states. Schools would then have to offer alternative education for students who can't be on campus if they won't wear a face covering.
The state said it will continue to assess conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic and make a decision no later than Nov. 1 as to whether to update mask requirements or guidance.
California continues to recommend that everyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine who is a part of the K-12 community gets the vaccine.
In a release, the California Department of Public Health said:
"Masks are one of the most effective and simplest safety mitigation layers to prevent in-school transmission of COVID-19 infections and to support full time in-person instruction in K-12 schools. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is transmitted primarily by aerosols (airborne transmission), and less frequently by droplets. Physical distancing is generally used to reduce only droplet transmission, whereas masks are one of the most effective measures for source control of both aerosols and droplets. Therefore, masks best promote both safety and in-person learning by reducing the need for physical distancing. Additionally, under the new guidance from the CDC, universal masking also permits modified quarantine practices under certain conditions in K-12 settings, further promoting more instructional time for students.
Finally, this approach takes into account a number of key considerations: current unknowns associated with variants and in particular the Delta Variant, which is more transmissible; operational barriers of tracking vaccination status in order to monitor and enforce mask wearing; and potential detrimental effects on students of differential mask policies. Detrimental effects of differential mask policies include: potential stigma, bullying, isolation of vaccinated OR unvaccinated students, depending on the culture and attitudes in the school or surrounding community."