Federal health officials issued revised COVID-19 guidance Friday stating that fully vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear face coverings in school buildings, but masks will still be required for everyone at Los Angeles Unified and other California campuses.
The guidance released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is only a set of recommendations designed to “supplement -- not replace” local rules and regulations.
The guidance recommends multiple layers of infection prevention, such as encouraging vaccinations, social distancing of at least three feet between students along with mask-wearing by students and staff who are not vaccinated.
When the Los Angeles Unified School District begins its fall semester Aug. 16 -- offering in-person instruction for all students -- masks will be required for “all students, staff and visitors” over age 2 at district sites and on buses, according to current rules.
The district's recently approved contract amendment with the United Teachers Los Angeles union also requires mask-wearing. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, said masks will also remain a requirement for campuses statewide.
“We applaud the CDC's commitment to ensuring that schools are fully, safely opened for in-person instruction,” Ghaly said in a statement. “Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction.
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.”
The LAUSD's current practices also include instruction and reinforcement of proper hygiene, with hand-washing breaks built into daily schedules. The district will also maintain physical distancing, with the “standard goal of six feet.”