DAVIS (CBS13) — Back to school is quickly approaching for Stephanie Phillips and her daughter Ellie, who will be starting sixth grade within the Davis Joint Unified School District.

But new COVID safety protocols will require students and staff to wear masks at all times even while outside.

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“Actually feel really good about it. I’m glad because Ellie’s age group and younger can’t get vaccinated,” Phillips said.

So what’s behind the decision?

The district said it was based on current infection trends and consultations with state and county health officials.

“The primary reason DJUSD is requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings both inside and outside is that children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, so they are missing this important protection against the virus. Our goal is to do all we can to keep children safely learning in K-12 classrooms, and this is one more way to support that goal,” the district said in a statement. “Yolo County Public Health Officer, Dr. Aimee Sisson recommends this additional layer of protection for children in Yolo County schools.”

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But is wearing a mask outdoors still necessary? We asked infectious disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, who is a professor of population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“The delta variant definitely is spread more easily but there’s really no evidence that there’s been any outdoor transmission. Outdoors is generally felt to be a very safe environment and major organizations are not recommending mask use outdoors,” Dr. Klausner said.

Despite the new rules Stephanie and Ellie are focusing on a new year, excited to get back to class.

“Our end goal is keeping them in school as long as we can and having the most normal school year we can so that they get the most out of it,” Phillips said.

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Face coverings:

  • May be removed while eating or drinking
  • Must cover the nose, mouth, and chin and may not have a vent or valve, which is typically a raised plastic piece on the side or front of the mask
  • Must contain a minimum of two (2) layers
  • Should be cleaned after one (1) day of use