SAN JOSE, Calif. - School children can officially ditch masks while indoors, beginning Mar. 12. This announcement from the California Department of Public Health comes after a trio of states Monday amended their COVID policies.
Officials with the San Jose Unified School District said they will fall in line with the state’s new policy.
"We will be aligning to the state’s updated guidance that masks will be strongly recommended for schools, instead of required," said spokeswoman Jennifer Maddox.
The policy changes in California, Oregon, and Washington State comes as COVID case rates, hospitalizations, and positivity rates have shown substantial declines.
"Local jurisdictions, local health jurisdictions, in this case schools and school districts, may decide to keep or add additional requirements beyond what the state is outlining," said California Dept. of Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
Santa Clara County health officers have said they will also follow the state’s lead.
The California Teachers Association released a statement that reads in part, "…while some students are ready to immediately remove their masks, others remain very afraid."
Some education experts said the impact of stress can be poor academic performance due to a bifurcated attention span.
"If your focus is not on the book or the math problem but instead on the possibility that you may catch something from somebody sitting nearby, it’s gonna be really hard to focus on the information and the ideas that you’re expected to learn at that time," said Dr. Heather Lattimer, dean of the San Jose State University College of Education.
Officials with the SJUSD said they will offer COVID protective equipment to teachers as masking becomes a recommendation, not a requirement.
"For students, I think we’ll have to see what the demand is for it," said Maddox. Added Ghaly, "We enter the next phase, and the future may bring future surges. And California will continue to be ready so we can keep Californians safe."
Masks will still be required in healthcare settings, mass transit, and jails.
Santa Clara County health officials are expected to announce Tuesday their metrics will allow for the end to indoor masking requirements, stating Wednesday. As such, everyone, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, has the option of going mask less.