Newsom expected to announce new mask policy in California schools

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday is expected to announce California's new policy for wearing masks in schools.

The Los Angeles Unified District, the largest school district in the state, has already dropped its outdoor face mask mandate for students and staff.

The governor says his guidelines are based on the rates of infection and hospitalizations.

Thirty California counties, including most of the Bay Area, and most of Southern California, are now reporting low- to-medium spread of infections, which means that students in most counties in California would no longer have to wear masks in schools, effective immediately, under new guidance released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

Megan Bacigalupi, whose sons attend Oakland Unified schools and who leads the group CA Parent Power, has rallied around an online "urgency of normal" campaign to make masks in school optional after mid-February, and a return to pre-pandemic practices of keeping children home if they’re sick.

Dr. Jeanne A. Noble, associate professor of emergency medicine and director of COVID response at UC San Francisco who is aligned with the campaign, argues that mask mandates have become a kind of "COVID theater."

"Hinging unmasking on community vaccination rates will penalize lower-resourced communities and those who have infection-acquired immunity," she tweeted. "There is no equity in this plan, nor is it supported as a safety measure." 

However, many are not ready to take off the masks – including several teachers unions. 

For example, some Nevada Union High School teachers in Northern California pushed back against a decision by their school board to defy state mask mandates by staying home, resulting in the closure of the school last week. 

 Across the country in New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the statewide masking mandate in schools will be lifted by Wednesday. 

"The day has come," Hochul said at a press conference in Albany.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.