Locally elected school boards and district superintendents are responsible for approving and implementing school safety plans with input from their stakeholders. But those plans must meet or exceed the standards set by the California Department of Public Health. In other words, they can be more restrictive than the state, but they cannot be less restrictive.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what the CDPH requires:

  • Face coverings must be worn by all students and staff while they’re indoors at school. Adults who are vaccinated may remove their masks if students are not present. Masks are not required outdoors, but they are encouraged.
  • Physical distancing is encouraged but it’s no longer required based on space limitations.
  • All school employees must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or get tested on a weekly basis. That public health order took effect on Aug. 12, but schools will have until Oct. 15 to be in full compliance.
  • Following close contacts, quarantines — or modified quarantines — will vary based on vaccination status and whether one or both parties is wearing a mask. Details can be found in the CDPH’s COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools. (If any symptoms occur within 14 days of an exposure, the exposed person must isolate, get tested and contact their health care provider.)

State health officials have also issued a set of questions and answers covering vaccinations, masking and quarantine guidance for the 2021-22 school year. But remember that individual school districts can choose to go above and beyond what’s required by the state, so be sure to check your local district’s website.