In California, K-12 students who refuse to wear a mask will be barred from campus

Kids wear masks to school in Los Angeles.
(Image credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

No mask, no school.

Under California's new state regulations announced on Monday, students in Kindergarten through 12th grade who refuse to wear masks inside their classrooms and school buildings this fall will be prohibited from coming on campus. There will be exceptions for kids who have special needs or disabilities, and they will receive non-restrictive alternative face coverings on a case-by-case basis. All schools and buses will have masks to hand out to kids as needed, and face coverings will be optional outside. If a student won't wear a mask, the state regulations say, then "schools should offer alternative educational opportunities."

In California, 99 percent of school districts have said they will fully reopen in the fall for in-person classes, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told the Los Angeles Times the state's health rules seem to be "a safe course for ensuring that every student can come back to school in the fall. I certainly see the logic of it." Masks are especially important when there is not ample room for physical distancing, he added, and in cases where not everyone in a room is vaccinated; only people 12 and older are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, and not everyone who can get vaccinated has done so.

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On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released recommendations saying that schools could allow vaccinated students to go to class and not have to wear a mask. This wasn't a mandate, though, and California decided to take a stricter approach.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.