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California schools to still require masks despite new CDC guidance

The guidance released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommendations designed to "supplement, not replace" local rules.

SAN DIEGO — 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 California will continue to require that masks be worn indoors in school settings, which also will ensure that all kids are treated the same.

The updated 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.

In a statement, the California Department of Public Health said that California will align with the new CDC guidance by implementing the multiple mitigation strategies of continued mask guidance and robust testing capacity, while not recommending physical distancing due to the obstacles it would present to California schools’ full reopening.

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."

In March, Governor Newsom highlighted his administration’s work to accelerate safe school reopenings has included a $6.6 billion package to fund safety measures for in-person instruction and expanded learning opportunities. According to the most recent data, essentially all schools in California are planning to be fully open for the upcoming school year.

RELATED: "This is a challenging transition' Gov. Newsom discusses school reopening across California

“There’s no substitute for in-person instruction, and today’s CDC guidance clearly reinforces that as a top priority, issuing recommendations for how schools throughout the country can get there. Here in California, we’ll get there through continued masking and robust testing capacity,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer in a statement. “The CDC issued a full commitment, with which California agrees, to full in-person instruction for students in the coming school year. CPDH is carefully reviewing the CDC guidance and plans to release state K-12 school guidance on Monday, July 12.” 

RELATED: Health officials update mask guidance for vaccinated teachers, students

WATCH RELATED: Gov. Newsom discusses school reopening across California (April 2021)