California To Update Mask Guidance, Keep Indoor Mask Mandate For Schools
Governor Gavin Newsom Visits School To Highlight State's Reopening Efforts ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: California Gov. Gavin Newsom removes his mask before speaking during a news conference after he toured the newly reopened Ruby Bridges Elementary School on March 16, 2021 in Alameda, California. Gov. Newsom is traveling throughout California to highlight the state's efforts to reopen schools and businesses as he faces the threat of recall. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan / Staff via Getty Images
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California will update its COVID-19 face-covering guidance next week, but some details will remain in place, namely the requirement for people in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors even if they are vaccinated. 

The updated guidance, effective June 15, 2021, stated that around “15% of our population remains without the option for vaccination (children under 12 years old are not yet eligible) and risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will remain until we reach full community immunity.”

It added that the “purpose of this guidance is to align with CDC recommendations and provide information about higher-risk settings where masks are required or recommended to prevent transmission to persons with higher risk of infection … to persons with prolonged, cumulative exposures…or to persons whose vaccination status is unknown.”

“When people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask correctly, they protect others as well as themselves. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors,” it noted. 

The guidance said that masks are not required for people who are fully vaccinated except in certain settings. The specific locations where masks must still be worn include public transit, indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, and additional youth settings. The guidance added that this requirement “may change as updated K-12 schools guidance is forthcoming, pending updates for K-12 operational guidance from the CDC.”

As reported by the Mayo Clinic, “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, in the U.S. children represent about 13% of all COVID-19 cases. Research suggests that children younger than ages 10 to 14 are less likely to become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 compared to people age 20 and older.”

The California guidance released on Wednesday comes as many states are facing the decision as to whether or not they should require students to continue to mask up in youth and school settings. 

Earlier this week, Democratic Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced that masks will continue to be required in schools indoors, but the requirement would be lifted for outdoor activities. 

As The Daily Wire reported, New York State health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker sent a letter to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last week that seemed to suggest the state would lift its indoor mask requirement for adults and students in schools and camps if it did not receive an objection from the CDC. 

As NBC 4 New York reported, “On Monday, Cuomo said the CDC didn’t plan to update its mask guidance for several weeks. In the interim, New York state is allowing schools to lose their mask mandate as it relates to the outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. For now, they will remain protocol indoors across the state.”

In a Psychology Today article from last December, Michael Ungar, Ph.D., wrote that the psychological effects of mask-wearing might have long-term effects for young children who rely on seeing faces and learning emotional responses from expressions at a young age. 

Ungar wrote, “as Catherine Herba and Mary Phillips at the London Institute of Psychiatry have explained, there is enough evidence to suggest that normal child development needs children to see people expressing their emotions.”

“While it is unlikely that masking will cause prosopagnosia, the neurological disorder which is characterized by an inability to distinguish one face from another,” Ungar added, “it is likely that younger children are not being exposed to the many different facial expressions which stimulate good neurocognitive development.”

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