There is mounting confusion over kids returning back to school and having to wear face masks following Monday's announcement by the California Department of Public Health. On Tuesday CDPH clarified their latest guidance.
In its latest statement, the CDPH said:
"California is focused on reopening schools safely for in-person learning and is doing so in line with guidance from the CDC. As many of California's school facilities can't fully accommodate physical distancing, California will align with the CDC’s guidance on school reopening by layering multiple other prevention strategies, including:
- Continued masking guidance: California will continue to require that masks be worn indoors in school settings, which also will ensure that all kids are treated the same.
- Robust testing program: Every California school has access to free testing through the robust state testing program for schools."
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Mask enforcement will continue to be handled by local schools as the state recognizes the unique needs of each district and child.
The San Diego County Office of Education said all schools in San Diego county have to follow guidance from the state and the county. The county of San Diego has said they're not going to go beyond what the state requires, which is mandatory masks indoors with exemptions and optional masks outdoors.
There are mixed reactions among parents and students about the updated guidance for the upcoming school year. A 4th grader at Paradise Hills elementary school said he agrees with the guidance.
"You can feel comfortable with it and safer, and at least be next to your family and not worry about the pandemic at all," said Isael Guzman, 10.
On Tuesday, the San Diego Unified School District said it will "continue to follow measures that have proven effective in protecting student safety," including facemasks, ventilation, and COVID-19 testing.
"Yesterday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published updated rules for K-12 schools that require all students and staff members in the school setting to wear masks when indoors, regardless of an individual's vaccination status.
San Diego Unified is excited to welcome back students for full in-person instruction in the new school year. Doing so safely means layering multiple mitigation strategies that we know work, such as vaccines, COVID testing, ventilation, and requiring face masks.
Following more than a year of close collaboration with health and safety experts, San Diego Unified will continue to follow measures that have proven effective in protecting student safety. All district indoor spaces will have optimal ventilation, whether from natural ventilation, heating/air conditioning systems, air purifiers with HEPA filters, or some combination of these.
The latest CDPH rules clearly recognize the importance of universal masking at schools, where so many students are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine. San Diego Unified will make all determinations case by case regarding any student who may have an inability to wear a mask based on a determination by school health and educational professionals.
For indoor settings, where no students are present (office buildings where there are no students; after-hours in schools), staff members who have shown evidence of vaccination are able to remove their masks."
Testing will be made available as per direction of the CDC and CDPH, with details to be announced later.