The new school year is right around the corner. California has new COVID-19 safety measures for the 2021-21 school year to get students back into school classrooms for safe, in-person learning. Mask-wearing by all students and staff and vaccinations by everyone in the community are key to a safe school environment.
The California Department of Public Health‘s (CDPH) guidance is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to help K-12 schools prepare for safe in-person classes for the 2021-22 school year. These strategies include vaccines, mask-wearing, ventilation (airflow in classrooms), handwashing, and cleaning.
The goal is to make sure all California students get access to safe and full in-person instruction. Safe and full, in-person classes depend on:
- Vaccination for all eligible people 12 and older to reduce COVID-19 rates in the community
- Wearing masks indoors at school
- Masks are optional outdoors for everyone in K-12 schools
- K-12 students need to wear a mask indoors
- Adults on K-12 school campuses need to wear a mask when indoors with students.
- Schools also have access to free COVID-19 testing program as another safety layer.
Research shows that in-person classes can happen safely without spacing requirements when other prevention strategies, like wearing masks, are used. Wearing a mask is one of the most effective and simplest ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in schools. And, mask wearing allows children to get in classrooms learning directly from teachers.
The updated California guidance considers several other things, including:
- What we are continuing to learn about COVID-19 variants, like the Delta variant
- The potential harmful effects on students if schools only required unvaccinated students to wear masks, including stigma, bullying, or student isolation.
CDPH continues to closely monitor what is happening with COVID-19 on an ongoing basis, tracking vaccination of adults and children in the community, which is the first effective layer of safety against the virus for schools; vaccination of students and staff; community cases and hospitalizations; outbreaks; and vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19.
Local public health officials might have more strict guidance for your community and schools. For more detailed information about the guidance, visit COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2021-22 School Year.
COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for all eligible people in California, including teachers, staff, students, and adults sharing homes with members of our K-12 communities. Additional vaccine information is available on the Safe Schools Hub and Vaccinate All 58 – Let’s Get to Immunity.