San Diego County Office of Education: Mask mandate is not ending in schools

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) –  Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will expire on the scheduled date of February 15, 2022.

The current mandate was put in place in December 2021, and was originally set to expire in mid-January, but was extended.

Newsom tweeted that a decreased case rate, and stabilized hospitalization numbers are the reason for letting the mandate expire. But, he added “unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors.”

The announcement comes just over a week after Governor Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti attended the NFC Championship game at SoFi Stadium, without masks.

Furthermore, California counties have the ability to keep the mandate in place if they wish. Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer already announced they will not lift the mask mandate on February 15th. On the other hand, nearby Orange County will be dropping the mask mandate.

Possibly by design, Governor Newsom’s announcement left out a decision to lift the mask mandate for schools.

But just one day after Newsom’s decision to lift the indoor mask mandate, the San Diego County Office of Education sent a letter to their Superintendents and School Leaders informing them they will not lift the mask mandate.

The official SDCOE notice is below:

Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,
The state announced plans to lift the mask mandate for indoor public places for vaccinated individuals on Feb. 15 and you may be wondering what this means for schools.
K-12 schools. The indoor mask mandate, which has been a cornerstone of the state’s COVID-19 strategy since the start of the school year, remains in effect for all K-12 students and staff. The CDPH guidance notes: “The masking requirement in California schools has allowed us to keep schools open when compared to other parts of the country. California accounts for roughly 12% of all U.S. students, but accounted for only 1% of COVID-19 related school closures during the omicron surge.”
In addition, CDPH guidance states the indoor mask requirement will continue for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses such as retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices serving the public. It’s recommended that fully vaccinated individuals continue indoor masking when the risk may be high.
CDPH continues to recommend surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with a good fit.
To assist with communicating this information with parents/guardians, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has prepared a template parent letter in English and Spanish. SDCOE will continue to monitor state and county guidance around masks and provide updates as needed.
Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors (Including Mega Events) has also been updated and set to take effect Feb. 16. For schools, the primary impact of this guidance is that the additional requirements (vaccination verification or pre-event testing within 48 hours of entry) will only be required for indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees and outdoor events with 10,000 or more attendees.
Thank you for all that you do. As always, please reach out if you have any questions.
Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-295-6641


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