Sunday, December 3

California to lift mask mandate in schools on March 12

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) — Starting next week, masks will no longer be required, but will be “strongly recommended” in California schools, according to updated guidance issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.

The new rule applies to schools and child care facilities and will begin on Saturday, March 12.

On Tuesday, however, masks will no longer be required but will be highly recommended for unvaccinated individuals in most indoor settings. Masks are still required in high transmission areas like buses, hospitals, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

“California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic,” said Newsom. “Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward.”

Oregon and Washington adopted similar policies on Monday.

On Friday, Newsom signed an order ending 12 state of emergency declarations, which automatically terminated any associated executive orders relating to those events.

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“We’ll continue to focus on scaling back provisions while maintaining essential testing, vaccination and health care system supports that ensure California has the needed tools and flexibility to strategically adapt our response for what lies ahead,” Newsom said.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles County lifted its COVID mandate that requires people to wear masks at outdoors. This includes K-12 schools and child care centers.

Later, the county eased its indoor mask mandate, which allows people vaccinated against the virus to remove face coverings indoors at establishments that verify customers’ vaccination status.

That order puts the onus on businesses to ensure that all customers permitted indoors are either fully vaccinated or can provide proof of a recent negative COVID test. Even after that verification, only fully vaccinated customers will be permitted to remove masks indoors.

Unvaccinated customers must continue wearing masks indoors, even after showing proof of a negative COVID test, unless they are actively eating or drinking.

It’s unclear if L.A. County has additional requirements beyond the state’s guidance regarding masks at schools.

According to the state, California educates 12% of the country’s students in kindergarten through the 12th grade, yet with its stricter policies, has only accounted for 1% of school closures due to COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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