The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said July 9 that fully vaccinated teachers, students and staff can return back to K-12 schools without wearing masks, Politico reported.
On its website, the CDC stated, "Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority."
However, the agency added, "Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
"CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking."
The new guidelines mark the first time the CDC has recommended that fully vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks in the classroom. The updates come amid an increasing number of COVID-19 cases linked to the more-transmissible Delta variant in states across the South, Southwest and Midwest.
However, California officials announced that the state will continue to require masks in school settings, despite the federal guidelines, according to Yahoo! News.
"Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction," said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly. "At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinatedtreating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment."