Tuesday, April 16

Newsom provides more details on the end of school mask mandates

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, while discussing California’s new “SMARTER” plan as the state shifts its COVID-19 efforts away from the pandemic, provided some insight as to when masking in public schools will be lifted, among the first questions asked during a press conference Thursday.

He assured that Feb. 28, the date that the state will provide an official timeline for lifting mask mandates, will have a clear date on when masks will be removed.

“We have stated very clearly that on the 28th of this month, we will be announcing a specific date — the date with destiny — the masks will come off in an appropriate manner,” he said during the presser.

The governor doubled down on his assurance further, stating that the date is attuned to the SMARTER plan that the state rolled out Thursday, which will transition the state into an endemic mentality toward the virus.

“Not only will we announce a date, but the date will be well within a period of time that I think will do justice to the needs to keep people confident that their children are being prioritized and healthy and safe, and at the same time, to accommodate the understanding that we’re trying to promote today, that we are moving to a new phase of this pandemic.”

The statement comes with the tacit acknowledgment that Democratic governors across the country are already eliminating mask requirements for schools and that those who haven’t are already considering the shift.

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California is one of the 13 states, including New York, Washington state and Hawaii, with mask mandates for students and educators still in effect. Newsom also pointed out Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent announcement that he would lift masking in schools — as well as businesses — starting in mid-March.

“As a parent of four young children, I know a thing or two about the nuances and complexities of the issue,” Newsom said.

He also responded to a question from KTLA reporter Shelby Nelson, who asked about anti-mask protests following the Super Bowl. Images of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other celebrities were photographed maskless at the game Sunday.

Newsom rebutted, noting the low vaccination rates among children 5 to 11 years old. 

“Almost 92 or 93% of adults have received at least one dose. … Of all Californians eligible, we’re at about 74% that have fully received their doses. Kids, that’s not the case. Sadly, it’s 29% of 5- to 11-year-olds are fully vaccinated.”

Newsom added that the mask requirement has led to a “substantially lower” rate of pediatric hospitalizations compared to Texas and Florida.

He said parents “on both sides of the issue” have valid points on whether kids should be masked up, but California has “to accommodate for a state that has more schools and public school educators than any state in the nation.”

“Those challenges all have to be incorporated.”

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