The state of California is lifting its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people on Wednesday, but the change does not yet affect students and staff in public schools.
Local mask orders can remain in place, meaning places like Los Angeles County are continuing with masking policies. In addition to schools, the masking requirements also remain in place for unvaccinated people and for locations deemed to be at risk, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
However, the requirement for schools could be changing soon.
On Monday, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly provided an update on COVID-19 across the state. Ghaly pointed out that hospitalization rates are decreasing and are expected to steeply decline. He noted that the state is approaching a point where masking requirements could be relaxed in school settings.
“Masking requirements were never put in place to be there forever,” Ghaly said. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”
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On Feb. 28, state officials will reassess the data, looking at information and case rates to confirm that case numbers, positive tests, and hospitalizations have decreased. At that point, Ghaly said masking requirements would move to a “strong recommendation” in school settings.
However, local school districts or health jurisdictions could continue to require masking in school settings.
He noted that California has the most K-12 public school students in the country, but schools in the state have experienced fewer school closures nationwide. He attributed this to state officials focusing on layers of mitigation efforts.