“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,” read the update, which arrived via a California Department of Public Health tweet.
Earlier, the state had released guidance saying not only that masks were mandated but that schools would be required to “exclude students from campus if they are not exempt from wearing a face covering under CDPH guidelines and refuse to wear one provided by the school.”
The original statement came across as a policy of “banning kids,” so it was rewritten to give schools more flexibility in enforcing or encouraging the use of masks, given that distancing is not possible in most schools, said Alex Stack, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Rules follow updated guidance
The CDC guidance does not replace local policies, and schools that are prepared to move away from pandemic precautions should do so gradually as community transmission reaches low levels, the agency said.
“If localities decide to remove prevention strategies in schools based on local conditions, they should remove them one at a time and monitor closely (with adequate testing) for any increases in COVID-19 cases before removing the next prevention strategy,” the CDC guidance said.
The agency also suggested schools promote vaccination (and even offer vaccines on site), provide paid leave for employees seeking to get vaccinated and excuse absences for students who need to be inoculated.
States and localities appear to have broken into three camps on the matter: Some are banning mask mandates outright; more are allowing local officials to make decisions; and a handful are requiring masks.
Officials in several states say they are reviewing the CDC guidance and may update their guidelines.
A stark divide develops among districts
At opposite ends of the mask guidance gamut are New York City and Texas. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that New Yorkers should assume masks will be worn in schools come September unless new developments spur a change in guidance. Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi promised “additional information for parents and students in the weeks ahead.”
“For now, we’re sticking with the idea that wearing the masks is the smart thing to do in schools. We’ll keep assessing as we go along, but I think for now, it still makes sense,” de Blasio said, adding that the city will “be driven by the data we see and the science, as always.”
“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.
As in Texas, Iowa’s chief executive and other leaders implied it was a matter of freedom of choice.
“The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties.”
CNN’s Kevin Flower, Alexandra Meeks, Cheri Mossburg, Joe Sutton, Lauren Mascarenhas, Holly Yan, Veronica Stracqualursi, Hannah Sarisohn and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.Source link