New CDC guidance says vaccinated students don't need masks in schools

The CDC issued new guidance Friday for schools, saying among other things that those who are vaccinated can go mask-free.

With summer camps in full swing, Jordan Thompson of El Cerrito is looking ahead to fall and ready for her kids to go back to school.

"I think that's the worrying part. They don't really want to go back. I think that they don't remember what it's like to be back and be with their friends. They're comfortable now at home," said Thompson.

The CDC Friday issued new guidance for kindergarten through 12 graders, stressing the importance of getting them back into classrooms.

Students who are vaccinated don't need masks.

Those not eligible for a vaccination should wear masks and maintain 3 feet distance.

But the CDC added even if that distance is not possible, classes should still resume with other precautions such as ventilation and cleaning.

And even if cases are rising, the CDC says schools should stay open.

Dr. Sunitha Kaiser is a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at UCSF.

"All of those new recommendations make sense," said Dr. Kaiser.

She says the new guidance aligns with her research observing learning hubs in San Francisco for several months earlier this year.

Dr. Kaiser found among 2,000 students, there was only one COVID case of hub-based transmission.

Since then, vaccinations have risen and cases have dropped which are two reasons why the CDC is stressing in-person learning this fall.

"We know now the benefits of in-person learning for them far, far outweigh the risks of COVID transmission," said Dr. Kaiser.

While California health officials applauded the CDC's move, they are sticking with masking for all at schools.

In a statement, the CA Public Health Department said, "California will continue to require that masks be worn indoors in school settings, which also will ensure that all kids are treated the same."

The CDC in its guidance acknowledged administrators might do what California is doing, which is keeping a masking policy in place for everyone to avoid the burden of sorting those who are vaccinated and those who are not.