SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has quickly backpedaled from their startling break from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, having initially stated on Monday that all K-12 students must wear masks at all times when they return for the upcoming fall semester – regardless of vaccination status – or they would be completely barred from school grounds.
The CDC had originally issued updated guidelines on June 9 regarding mask use now that the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down, stating that only children and staff that have not been vaccinated should wear masks when attending school.
However, the CDPH had opted to ignore the CDC’s guidelines, stating on Monday that “Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements. Additionally, schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering.”
But based on waves of negative backlash to their announcement – in addition to their blatant flouting of CDC guidelines – the CDPH tweeted later on Monday that their new guidelines would be tweaked, dropping the text concerning the mask requirement and allowing individual schools more freedom in deciding their own COVID-19 protocols.
“UPDATE: 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,” the CDPH said.
Currently, over 60 percent of California residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly had previously remarked on the CDPH’s now-undone guidelines requiring masks, claiming at the time that the mandate was being implemented not only to keep students healthy, but also so that kids who have not yet been inoculated wouldn’t feel persecuted.
“Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction,” he said. “At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinated – treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”
However, in January the CDC noted that, “As many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the U.S. as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported, but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”