June 17, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

I'm writing with updates on several COVID-19-related items that have arisen since my last message.

Updated Face Coverings Q&A
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated face coverings guidance that aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and provides information about higher-risk settings where face coverings are required or recommended. The new Face Coverings Q&A document states that while everyone is required to wear a face covering indoors in K-12 school settings, children are no longer required to wear masks while they are outside at school, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Some of the questions answered in the document include:
  • Are children age 2 through 11 required to wear masks indoors in K-12 schools and other youth settings? Yes, since they are currently ineligible for vaccines and are therefore "unvaccinated." This requirement is subject to forthcoming CDC guidance addressing schools and youth.
  • What is covered under "youth settings"? "Youth settings" include K-12 schools and child care, and also cover day camps for youth, youth sports and other youth activities, including theater and music performances and band. Updated CDC guidance is forthcoming for youth settings.
  • Will unvaccinated children and youth be required or recommended to wear a mask during recess outdoors if they cannot maintain physical distancing? In general, unvaccinated children and youth do not need to wear a mask outdoors, even if they cannot maintain physical distancing. However, per CDC recommendations, in areas of substantial to high transmission, people who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact (including high-risk contact sports) with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Will this guidance change once the new CDC recommendations for K-12 are released? CDPH is closely monitoring anticipated updates from the CDC regarding K-12 and other youth settings and will update recommendations at that time.

COVID-19 Planning Assumptions and Recommendations for the 2021-22 School Year
As most of the restrictions that were necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted from public places, many people have questions about how COVID-19 will impact children, families, and schools in the 2021-22 school year. To help school leaders anticipate and prepare for these impacts, the San Diego County Office of Education — in consultation with physicians from our local public health department and UC San Diego — has prepared COVID-19 Planning Assumptions and Recommendations for the 2021-22 School Year.

While no one can predict the future, we have put together a set of planning assumptions that are reasonable and prudent based on what is known now, and proposed recommendations to help prevent or mitigate the impacts associated with each assumption.

Thank you for all you are doing during these unprecedented times. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need support.


Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-295-6641