California drops indoor mask mandate for unvaxxed, schools

CALIFORNIA this week announced that it is dropping indoor mask mandate requirements, including for unvaccinated residents and in schools.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced that on March 1, masks will no longer be required for unvaccinated individuals, but will be strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings.

“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,” Newsom said.

Masks will still be required for everyone in high transmission settings like public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

The Golden State is also joining western states in ending school mask mandates next week.

By March 12, California along with Oregon and Washington, will drop the requirement for students to wear masks while at school, leaving the decision up to districts and local jurisdictions.

The announcement came on Monday, Feb. 28 that schools and child care facilities will not have to wear masks, even if they will continue to be strongly recommended.

“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,” the governor added.

Local jurisdictions, like Los Angeles County, may have additional requirements beyond the state guidance.

LA County is following the state in dropping school masking measures, but will continue to recommend indoor masking at child care sites and K-12 schools, according to the county Department of Public Health.

“School districts may continue to require masking at schools and during school activities and are encouraged to consult with teachers, staff, parents and students as they consider the appropriate safety protections for their school community, recognizing that many individuals may want to continue additional protections,” the department said in a statement.

While the LA Unified School District has not put out a statement on whether it will drop the mask mandate, the United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers’ union, said it is premature to discuss ending the mask mandate for schools.

“LAUSD schools have been the safest and most well equipped in the country because educators and families united to demand critical health and safety protocols,” union President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. “These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families. It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”

As of Tuesday, March 1, Public Health reported 1,093 new positive cases in LA County, bringing the total to 2,797,628 cases. Further, 58 new deaths were reported, with 30,773 deaths to date. n


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