California Drops Mask Mandate for Schools
After the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced its revised mask requirements last week, the State of California is moving from requiring masks in schools to “strongly recommended”, which will be in effect March 12 as health officials anticipate a drop in COVID-19 rates in the coming weeks.
Naturally, this newfound information is being met with mixed emotions. Wearing masks has been a source of immense controversy during the pandemic, with a split largely falling along political party lines. In an article published in EdSource dated February 28, former education reporter for The Sacramento Bee, Diana Lambert, wrote:
“Despite the protests against masking, almost two-thirds of California voters support mask and vaccine mandates in schools, according to a poll conducted in early February and released Feb. 25 by the Institute of Governmental Studies at University of California Berkeley and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. Among parents, 61% approved mask mandates in schools and 55% approved vaccine mandates, according to the poll. Approval for these mandates was divided along political lines, with the vast majority of Republicans disapproving and the vast majority of Democrats approving. (Diana Lambert, edsource.org)”-Diana Lambert, edsource.org
Masks Still Strongly Recommended
To that end, supporters and opponents of masking might be able to find a shred of common ground. While the mandate is being rolled back, that does not mean that all school districts will force students to burn their masks at recess. California is still “strongly recommending” the use of masks for individuals who are not yet vaccinated. This applies to both students and staff that are considered immunocompromised. This is especially true in areas where infection rates are still high, such as in Los Angeles County where students and staff who still feel the need to wear a mask will be free to do so. Those who don’t can also choose not to wear one. Everyone wins, so to speak.
What Elk Grove Parents Are Saying
Many Elk Grove Unified School District parents have sounded off on the state’s move. Jack C,, whose children are 13 and 10, are not as thrilled as some might be:
“I would like to see the active case of numbers go down before we remove the mask mandates. Whenever we rush things, we have seen the situation get worse. My kids will continue to mask in school for the time being. It’s not just for their sake, but for their classmates, teachers, family, and friends.”Jack C., EGUSD parent
Dr. Lannie Duong, PhD., is another parent of multiple children in EGUSD, but her extensive background in medical science combined with her experience as a mother has given her a broader view:
“As a mom, I long to see my school-age kids enjoy their friends and school without the concerns of masks hampering social or physical play. As a healthcare worker, I know masks help reduce the spread of infection, and want to protect all patients. The goal ideally is to maximize health and safety without sacrificing too much mental health; mental health is health, too, and the mental fatigue from the Pandemic is real.”Dr. Lannie Duong, PhD.
Important to note, masks will still be required for everyone regardless of vaccination status. High-transmission areas like health care settings; emergency homeless shelters; public transit; correctional facilities, and long-term care facilities are still requiring Californians to mask up. But slowly, state officials have been shifting away from a “living with the virus indefinitely” approach, which is the closest we’ve seen to normalcy in nearly two years.