Students should be encouraged but not required to use face coverings when California schools reopen for classroom instruction, according to a draft of “interim guidance” from the state obtained by EdSource.

However, all staff should use face coverings, according to the document, which sources familiar with it say was drawn up by the California Department of Public Health in collaboration with the governor’s office.

That is only one of the numerous issues addressed in the document on what schools need to take into account when reopening. The guidelines, it says, are based on “the best available public health data at this time, international best practices and the practical realities of managing school operations.”

School administrators around the state have been grappling with the multi-dimensional complexities of reopening schools in a system that serves over 6 million students, by far the largest enrollment in the nation.

What is striking about the guidance, at least in its draft form, is the flexibility that it would allow school districts on multiple issues.

The document acknowledges the diversity of California’s districts and communities. It says that implementation of the guidance “will depend on local public health conditions” and “should be tailored for each setting,” taking into account “the needs of students and families.”

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