Marin to seek clarification on application of mask mandate in schools – Marin Independent Journal
Marin’s top public health official said on Tuesday he was conferring with state officials to get more details on plans to enforce the state’s indoor mask mandate as it affects Marin’s K-12 public schools.
Marin’s public health official Dr Matt Willis said new language posted Tuesday on the California Department of Public Health website “still says that K-12 students should hide themselves in indoors in all schools in California, but appears to have moved the app to the school level. “
Willis said he and other Marin officials would “seek clarification on the state of the exact meaning of this new language and work with the school administration to develop a plan for Marin schools.”
Willis’ comments come after the state confirmed on Monday that masks will be required for all students and staff in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12 statewide, regardless of immunization status.
As part of those guidelines, the state initially said Monday afternoon that all students who refused to wear a mask would be banned from entering campuses in accordance with state regulations.
Hours later, the state shifted gears, saying the decision on how to enforce mask rules would go to local districts.
“As per the guidelines for the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce mask requirements,” the state’s public health website now states. “In addition, schools should provide alternative educational opportunities for students excluded from campus because they will not be wearing face coverings.”
One option for alternative education could include offering independent study programs for the 2021-22 school year to students who refuse to wear a mask, the website says. The state also stressed that accommodations will be made for children who cannot wear masks due to a health problem or for students who forget to bring a mask to school.
The change in California’s school mask regulations comes as Marin County public health officials announced the release of a new dashboard to monitor cases of COVID-19.
Marin sees an increase in the number of cases since June 15, when there was a statewide reopening and also more variants in circulation, according to the county’s announcement.
According to county data, 12 people have been hospitalized in Marin for COVID-19 since June 1; all but one were not vaccinated. The two most recent deaths in Marin, in early May, were unvaccinated residents, Marin’s public health official Dr Matt Willis said on Monday.
âSharing this information helps people see for themselves – not getting vaccinated puts you at a real risk of infection and more serious illness,â said Willis. âIt is important to know that vaccines are effective against the variants that we see. “
State guidelines on universal masking, published and repeatedly updated on the state’s public health website, contradicted recommendations released on Friday by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicated that fully immunized students and school staff did not need to wear masks indoors. The CDC said students and staff could ditch the masks if they kept a distance of 3 feet between them.
Although it differs from the CDC on mask use, the state says it conforms to the CDC’s “core principle” that “all students should have access to safe and comprehensive in-person education and to as much teaching time as possible. . “says the site.
California’s strategy, the website says, includes a continued focus on vaccination, universal masking in schools, “more targeted quarantine practices” and a robust testing program. As for the CDC’s recommendation to maintain 3 feet of distance between students, the state says this won’t be necessary if the other layers of protection are used.
“Recent evidence indicates that in-person training can be conducted safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (eg masking) are fully implemented,” the website says. the state. âMasks are one of the most effective and simple layers of safety mitigation to prevent school transmission of COVID-19 infections and to support full-time in-person education at K schools -12. “
The state has set a deadline of November 1 to reassess the mask guidelines and see if the same protocols should continue.
Willis said universal masking made sense for several reasons.
âThe rationale for elementary school students is, as reported last week, that they are too young to be vaccinated,â Willis said in an email Monday. There is no coronavirus vaccine available for children 12 and under yet.
âThe rationale for middle school and high school students is that not all are vaccinated,â added Willis. “The process of reliably identifying and calling unvaccinated students for a separate set of rules seemed unrealistic and stigmatizing.”
Additionally, “the delta variant spreads faster across the state and is more contagious,” Wllis said. “This increases the risk of outbreaks in schools – so now is not the time to relax the measures that protected schools before the emergence of the variant.”
A public webinar for Marin School families is scheduled for August 4th.