State public health officials announced their public health guidance Thursday for the 2022-2023 K-12 school year with no mask requirement for students or staff.
The guidance, which officially went into effect Friday, includes recommendations that students get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask indoors but does not require that they do either.
California students will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine until at least July 1, 2023, provided that the vaccine is fully approved by federal regulators for all age groups.
The guidance also requires that students cannot be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition for participating in a school event or activity.
Teachers and school staff are also not required to wear a mask, but the state has required them since August 2021 to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or test weekly for the virus.
"COVID-19 is here to stay, but we have learned methods and gained tools to decrease its impact on our health and well-being," the CDPH said in a statement on the guidelines. "California's schools can manage this disease in sustainable and adaptive manners."
The Palo Alto Unified School plans to follow the state guidelines and similarly won't be requiring masks or vaccinations this fall, Superintendent Don Austin confirmed. That's in keeping with the school district's existing practice. Palo Alto Unified removed its mask requirement in March, also in concert with the state lifting its school mask mandate.
Rapid tests should be considered the primary testing option for schools over PCR tests, according to the CDPH. Students and staff are also advised to test for the virus before returning from summer, winter and spring breaks.
Schools will be required to provide paid COVID-19 sick leave through at least Sept. 30, 2022. Students who test positive are also advised to stay home from school for at least five days and wear a mask around others for at least 10 days.
The state's full health guidance for K-12 schools can be found at cdph.ca.gov.