SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The California Department of Public Health on Monday released its updated guidance for K-12 schools for fall 2021.

This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that kids should get back to in-person instruction.


The guidance, which aligns California school policy with the CDC’s updated recommendations for K-12 schools, emphasizes the following:

  • Vaccination for all eligibile individuals to get COVID-19 rates down throughout the community
  • Continued masking in schools, which enables no minimum physical distancing, allowing all students access to full in-person learning and more targeted quarantine practices
  • Keeping students in school
  • Access to a robust COVID-19 testing program as an additional safety layer

Officials said recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can happen safely, without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies are fully implemented.

Under the new rules, K-12 students who refuse to wear a mask inside will not be permitted on school campuses.

According to sub-section “e” under the mask section, the new rules state “Schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering.”

It continues, “In order to comply with this guidance, schools must exclude students from campus if they are not exempt from wearing a face-covering under CDPH guidelines and refuse to wear one provided by the school.”

“Given California’s science-based approach and the fact that the state’s school facilities can’t accommodate physical distancing, we will align with the CDC by implementing multiple layers of mitigation strategies, including continued masking and robust testing capacity,” said California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly last week. “Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction.”

The state said students and school staff will also have access to free COVID-19 testing.