POLITICS

California Reverses On Banning Unmasked Students From Campuses

The state is leaving it up to local K-12 schools to decide how to handle students who refuse to wear masks, which will be mandatory for all in schools in the fall.

California backtracked on barring students who don’t wear masks from school campuses, instead leaving it up to local K-12 officials to decide how to handle students who don’t comply with the mask mandate at schools in the fall. 

State officials had issued a rule on Monday afternoon that schools “must exclude students from campus if they are not exempt from wearing a face covering ... and refuse to wear one.” 

But later that evening, the state health department tweeted that the school guidance would be clarified “recognizing local schools’ experience in keeping students and educators safe.”

On Tuesday, the California Department of Health sent out a note to reporters saying that there had been “some confusion” about the guidance and clarifying that “mask enforcement will continue to be handled by local schools.”

Under this latest policy, local school officials would continue to choose how to handle cases of students who refuse to wear masks, as they have over the past school year. 

California will be returning to in-person instruction in the fall and will require masks for everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status. 

The state said it was basing its recommendation off of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for K-12 schools released Friday, which recommended masks be worn indoors for anyone not vaccinated and that students be kept three feet apart in classrooms. 

California’s more stringent masking requirements (including for those fully vaccinated) are based on the fact that many of its school facilities do not allow for proper physical distancing, the health department said. This will also “ensure that all kids are treated the same.”

Currently, only children 12 years old or over are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Coronavirus cases have been rising across the country as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, with the overwhelming majority of cases among people who are unvaccinated.

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