Masks in, distancing out in schools this fall

California will require all students and school staff to wear face coverings indoors this fall, regardless of vaccination status. State officials announced the policy decision Friday,  the same day the CDC released updated school guidelines recommending masks only for the unvaccinated.

A universal mask requirement would help all students be treated equally, regardless of vaccination status, state officials stressed.

“We’re going to start with a requirement K through 12 that the year begins with masks,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly. “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.”

Ghaly said he believes the state’s policy to be “consistent” with the CDC.

On the flip side, the state is no longer recommending physical distancing in schools “due to the obstacles it would present to California schools’ full reopening.”