Governor Gavin Newsom announced that in California, starting March 11, 2022, the indoor COVID-19 mask mandate in schools will be lifted because of the significant drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The San Diego Unified School District extended their indoor mask mandate past March 11 until after Spring Break. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Masks will be optional for San Diego Unified students, staff, and visitors starting April 4, when students return from Spring Break” (sandiegouniontribune.com).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on March 17, San Diego fell under the low COVID-19 community level. The only recommended steps are to get tested if symptoms arise and to stay current with the vaccines (cdc.gov).
Sophomore Yu Liu said, “If we can follow these steps to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, then being maskless won’t have a remarkable effect on the safety of the students at UC High.”
However, some people disagree with this change. Sophomore Liam Holmes expressed concern over the policy change. “I feel that the end of the mask mandate in schools may not be the best decision. I am worried about the infection rates spiking back up. But since the expert authorities of COVID-19 approved this, I guess it should be fine,” he said.
Even though the mask mandate in school facilities is being lifted in California, masks are still recommended. According to the La Jolla Light, “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its own guidance February 25, recommending universal indoor masking only in areas where the community level of COVID-19 is considered to be high, using hospitalization-based metrics as well as case rates” (lajollalight.com).
According to the Los Angeles Times, Newsom said, “California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic. Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward” (latimes.com).
Other West Coast states have also ended school’s mask mandates despite strongly recommending wearing masks in public facilities. According to the New York Times, “California, Oregon, and Washington will stop requiring masks in schools after March 11, the governors of the three states said Monday in a joint statement” (nytimes.com).
Current data on hospitalizations shows that about 70 percent of Americans could safely stop wearing masks as long as social distancing is still enforced (nytimes.com).