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California backtracks on school mask guidance that defied CDC

Sebastian Hughes, DCNF

California rescinded COVID-19 guidance banning unmasked K-12 students from campuses, within hours of issuing it, ABC News reported.

The COVID-19 public health guidance released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for the 2021-2022 school year previously “required” students to wear face masks while indoors and said that schools would “exclude” those who refused.

The CDPH published the guidance Monday afternoon and took immediate effect, but officials backtracked later Monday night, ABC News reported.

The guidance stated schools “should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering,” according to ABC News, contradicting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines released July 9 stating vaccinated teachers and students did not need to wear masks.

Jonathan Zachreson, founder of Reopen California Schools, told the Associated Press it was “outrageous” for California to issue the guidance. “We’re continuing to put the burden of this pandemic on our children, and it needs to stop,” he said.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a clinical professor of population and public health sciences at the University of Southern California, told the AP the rules went “too far.” He added that he was it was “frustrating, in a state of 40 million people, just to say everyone has to be the same.”

“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 tweeted Monday night.

Language regarding the banning of unmasked students was later dropped altogether and instead said schools should make their own decisions when it came to mask mandates, ABC News reported.

“Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements,” the revised guidance stated.

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