Reopening California

New Mask Guidelines Don't Apply for Children Under 12

Getty Images

For parents of young children, Tuesday is less a chance at new freedoms and more of another venture into the unknown. Approximately 6 million California children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated so they will still be required to wear masks, sometimes when everyone else isn’t. 

And those same unvaccinated children will be out in public with far more unmasked people. 

On the eve of the reopening, Jana Fuska was at Robin Sweeny Park in Sausalito with her three children ages two, four and six. 

The oldest, Asam, would love to toss his mask away. 

“It makes me sweat,” he said. 

But masks will still be required on children younger than 12. 

So while Fuska can shed her mask wearing, Adam and his sisters won’t be so fancy free.

“I’m not gonna be one of the people that will be worried when my kids don’t wear masks and they’re going to be around people not wearing masks. I might see the situation differently at that moment but I think it’ll be fine,” said Fuska.

Experts say they favor masks for young children, especially because of the delta variant, increasingly showing up worldwide and in the Bay Area.

“We’ve had a number of cases of infection in children so that’s worrisome. And children can get these long term side effects,” said Dr. George Rutherford, adding adults can make the world a safer place for children by getting vaccinated and using common sense.

“When kids are out congregating in closed spaces, schools for instance, they should be wearing masks. If they’re outdoors I am much more sanguine about it and I think we can cut them some slack there,” said Rutherford.

Kristin Simmons, mom of 2-year-old Micah, is all about following rules to stop the spread of COVID, though it's not always easy to figure out those rules. She found that out while planning a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“Three and older are required to wear one, including us,” she said. “So he would not need to wear one? Because he’s two, he would not.”

Dr. Rutherford says things will be more straightforward come fall. That’s when pediatric vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years of age are expected to be approved, with vaccines for even younger children to follow.

Contact Us