With California planning to “fully reopen” its economy on June 15th, it’s an exciting time but also a bit overwhelming. After 12+ months of pandemic life, what does “normal” look like? And what does a “fully reopened” economy look like for the classroom?
Yes, you’ll have to wear masks in the classroom
Masks will continue to be required inside K-12 schools, childcare facilities after state reopens. Though most Covid-19 restrictions will drop after June 15, when California officially reopens, individuals will still be required to wear masks inside K-12 schools, childcare facilities and other youth settings regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.
That’s according to guidance on the use of face coverings released Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health. The guidance states masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals after June 15, when the state drops its color-coded reopening tier system, but lists five exceptions: public transit, K-12 schools and childcare, healthcare settings, correctional facilities and detention centers, and homeless or emergency shelters.
Regardless if you’re a lead teacher or substitute teacher, educators and school staff will keep rocking a mask.
However, the guidance document released Wednesday states that the rules could change for K-12 schools, since the state’s updated operating guidance for schools is “forthcoming.” That will follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s updated operational guidance for K-12 schools.
So it’s possible things could change before the 2021 fall school year begins, but for now keep your masks handy.
No, you won’t have to wear masks outside the classroom
As long as you’re vaccinated, you’ll pretty much be able to do everything you were doing before the pandemic without needing to wear a mask. That includes grocery shopping, going to the gym, drinking at a bar, seeing a movie or going to church.
If you’re not vaccinated, you’ll still be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings. How will businesses be able to tell the difference? That’s trickier. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said businesses have three options:
- Allow individuals to “self attest” they’ve been vaccinated
- Implement a vaccine verification system
- Require everyone to wear a mask
If a business has information posted visibly about the new guidelines (that unvaccinated people still need to wear masks) and someone walks into a business without a mask on, that should be interpreted as someone self attesting they are vaccinated, Ghaly said.
What will safety protocols look like in the fall?
As of now, we’re not quite sure what safety protocols will look like in the classroom come fall.
Will there be masks?
Too soon to tell.
State by state more and more school districts are dropping mask mandates inside buildings and outdoors as COVID rates fall and more children become eligible for vaccinations. The CDC has also signaled that in may soon loosen its guidance for masking in schools. San Francisco USD also expects to return to full in-person learning in the fall, with masks but without daily health screenings, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
However, students in some parts of the country may still be wearing face coverings in the fall. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said masks will remain a part of schooling in the fall because vaccines may still not be approved for children under 12.
6ft social distancing?
In March 2021, the CDC shifted it’s regulations from 6 feet to 3 feet of social distancing between students. It’s possible by fall that no social distancing will be required.
That’ll probably stick!
What’s the latest from the health department?
As of June 3rd, California Public Health Department only has protocols published for the 2020-2021 school year. LA County Health department updated their protocols on May 24, 2021 but nothing yet has been published for the fall.
Overall, the trajectory for safety protocols is looking more relaxed for August/September, as COVID numbers drop and vaccines become available to youth. Plan for some restrictions that make sense in a post-COVID world but nothing as restrictive as the 2020 school year.
Woo hoo! Looking forward to the new school year and serving students exceptional classroom experiences come fall 2021.