School superintendents in six counties and the city of Berkeley jointly announced their support Friday for full in-person classes for the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year.
The announcement came from superintendents in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda counties in addition to the city of Berkeley and aligns with guidance from the California Department of Public Health that encourages schools across the state to reopen with modifications.
The guidance from the CDPH states that all students should have access to "full, in person learning" with safety precautions in place, including more targeted quarantine practices and stronger COVID-19 testing,
The officials also advised all students age 12 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have yet to do so. Under state public health guidelines, students will be required to wear a face covering when indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
"We highly encourage our students to take advantage of vaccination opportunities and universally wearing their masks," Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey said in a statement. "These strategies are proven to be the most effective way to prevent in-school transmission of the COVID-19 virus and its variants."
State public health and education officials have yet to mandate that eligible students get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to school.
They have, however, hinted that such a mandate will be considered once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues its full approval of the three available vaccines.
Similar vaccination mandates already exist for communicable illnesses like measles and whooping cough unless a child has a documented exemption from a doctor.
"It is important for all students to have access to a safe learning environment, and universal mask-wearing and the COVID-19 vaccine are proven to be the two most effective mitigation strategies in preventing in-school transmission of the coronavirus and its variants," Santa Clara County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said.
Parents and students can view a set of frequently asked questions about the state's K-12 guidance at cdph.ca.gov.
Parents and students can also find a vaccination location at myturn.ca.gov.