As it had promised to do, the State of California today issued new guidance on the use of masks in child care centers and K-12th grade schools, saying that while masks are still “strongly recommended” indoors at schools, individual school districts will be allowed to drop their indoor mask requirements as of March 12. School districts will be free, however, to set their own masking policies based on their own local situations…and individual employees, students and visitors may also make their own decisions about whether they want to continue wearing masks to help reduce their own risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Also, just a few hours after the state announcement, the LA County Department of Public Health issued this statement aligning with the State’s new policy:
“We appreciate the continued leadership from the state as they adjust masking guidance to reflect the improving conditions across many communities. LA County Public Health will align school masking measures with the state and shift to strongly recommending indoor masking requirements at childcare sites and K-12 schools beginning March 12. 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.”
LAUSD has not yet issued a new statement on the rule changes, but according to the LA Times today, “Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school system, appears bound by an agreement with its teachers union to require masking at least through the end of the current school year. But district officials could, if they wish, bring the matter back to the bargaining table.” So we may hear more on that front soon.
Meanwhile, more information on the new state-level recommendations will come tomorrow, as LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer is scheduled to discuss the new state policies with the LA County Board of Supervisors at its weekly meeting.