Newsom Lifts Mask Mandate for K-12 Schools


Sofia Bello

Students work inside their classroom, all wearing their district-mandated masks. After March 11, these students will have the option to wear these masks in class. While the decision to keep wearing masks has been a source of stress for many, others will be very excited to take off their masks in classrooms for the first time in two years.

Anna Ho, Staff Writer

On February 28, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that after March 11, masks will no longer be mandated in K-12 classrooms for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students. 

 While Newsom and the California Department of Health (CDPH), still recommend that students and teachers wear masks after March 11, this change marks a major shift in Californian COVID-19 policy, relaxing the rules for K-12 students for the first time since March 2020.

 CUSD, which has always acted per CDHP guidelines, has indicated that they will follow these new guidelines.

Due to the extensive controversy surrounding mask mandates, many Californians have rejoiced, while others are apprehensive as to whether this lift comes at an ideal time in the pandemic. The State of California has received backlash from students, parents, and teachers who believe that the lift comes too early. 

“I think this mandate is too early because there are still people that are sick with COVID right now and there are kids that have parents with health problems. For them to say ‘no more wearing masks’, right now, I think that’s just not good,” said a SJHHS student.

California currently has about the same number of daily cases as in the fall 2020. These numbers influenced the school board to keep students at home at that time, and the school year started with students 100% online. Because similar numbers have led to a very different response now, many have raised the concern that case numbers are still far too high for mask mandates to be lifted. 

Despite this, there are fewer deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 relative to the case numbers seen at around that same time. This could be due to several factors, such as the less severe symptoms of the Omicron strain, the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, the natural immunity that many Californians now have, and the increased access to COVID-19 testing.

The mixed response across California to this upcoming lift is mirrored in the SJHHS student body, as the question of whether or not to wear a mask after March 11 has been a source of stress for many. 

“I’ve been following state guidelines this whole pandemic, so if the state lets me take my mask off, I’ll trust them,” said one student.

“I’m vaccinated, and my whole family is vaccinated, so I feel pretty safe without my mask on. If no one around me is wearing it, then I see no point in wearing it, but I’ll probably wear it around other students who are just to be respectful,” said another student.

“I’ll still be wearing it because I have a dad that’s diabetic. I’m just trying to protect him,” said a student.

With the mask mandate requirement coming to an end, students will have to consider many factors in making the decision to wear or not wear a mask. Ultimately, the State of California has left it up to personal choice.