KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — When it comes to COVID-19 and schools masks are up for debate again. A lot of school-aged kids are too young to get a coronavirus vaccine and that complicates going maskless in classrooms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings.
Vaccinated teachers and students don't need masks, CDC says
As for those who are not vaccinated, the CDC is continuing to ask them to consistently wear face coverings, especially indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The guidance generally leaves it to local officials to figure out how to ensure the unvaccinated are using precautions while letting those who are fully protected go mask-free.
- Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
- Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
- CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
- Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
- Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
- Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently).
- COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
- Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).
California leadership says it will take CDC recommendations into consideration and allow kids to return to in-person learning with some masks on and keep up with frequent testing at school sites.
Social distancing is likely a thing of the past in most school settings and the CDC says it acknowledges the barriers the practice puts on traditional learning. The CDC recommends that schools maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, officials say it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
Kern County High School District Public Information and Communications Manager Erin Briscoe-Clarke issued the following statement: "The Kern High School District is looking forward to welcoming our students and staff to our campuses for in-person instruction this fall for the 2021-2022 school year. We will continue to follow the California Department of Public Health and Kern County Public Health guidance for COVID-19 prevention. Our school sites are currently planning for the upcoming school year and will be communicating return-to-school plans with families in the coming weeks."