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School districts scramble to implement California's mask mandate for upcoming school year

Students will soon be returning to in-person learning this fall and the state just released rules on masks that are more restrictive than CDC guidelines.
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Latin students in the classroom. Female student wearing mask and writing in notebook with a pen. Covid-19. Pandemic.

CALIFORNIA, USA — In California, all students from kindergarten through 12th grade must wear a mask while indoors. It’s a rule that’s more restrictive than CDC guidelines, which says students who are fully vaccinated do not need to mask.

"The science has showed us that we know what works to help keep schools safe and open for the coming school year “ said Erin Sauber-Schatz, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parents like Theresa Amador said the messaging is contradictory.

“For them to have to be mandated to wear a mask at school all day long when they can go to the grocery store, they can go to their sports, they can go shopping, they can go to any other place in the community and not need it, yet at school, they are required to have it. What message does that send?” Amador said.

Amador has three children who go to schools in the San Juan Unified School District and said parents should have a choice on whether to send a mask to school with their child. She believes there are different ways to keep kids safe while in the classroom.

“The teacher can be away from the kids. Kids are still spaced. We are still using sanitizer,” Amador said.

The California Department of Public Health said each school district will be in charge of enforcing the mask mandate. ABC10 reached out to San Juan Unified, Rocklin and Elk Grove school districts, but at this time, none have announced guidance on how they plan to implement masking. Elk Grove Unified School District is expected to release its plan on Wednesday. 

“I have not a lot of faith in our district in making timely decisions about what’s best for the students,” Amador said.

Regarding students who will not wear a face covering, CDPH said districts should have alternative educational options for students who are excluded from campus.

“I don’t feel that the government should make such a blanket mandate, especially since many of these students have been vaccinated,” Amador said.

(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct when the districts expect to release their plans.)

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