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California Mask Mandate Evolves

LOS ANGELES, CA – On March 12, Los Angeles County updated its indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools and childcare centers. The new policy transitioned mask-wearing from required to strongly recommended.

Photo credit: CalHHS

School districts across the county followed the updated recommendations from the California Department of Public Health. However, LAUSD, the country’s second-largest school district, continued to enforce the mandate.

A tentative agreement with United Teachers of Los Angeles requires LAUSD to negotiate any updated changes. The September 2021 agreement detailed indoor mask-wearing as a requirement until the end of the 2022 academic school year.

LAUSD serves more than 600,000 students from kinder through 12th grade.

John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills is one out of the 1,000 schools within the district.

Dr. Richard Chavez serves as the principal of Kennedy High School. Since the announcement, he says that parents have asked about masks rules.

Photo credit: Vanessa Garcia

Dr. Chavez said the indoor mask requirement will be updated if and when policy changes.

In late February, the district lifted its outdoor mask mandate. Yet, students like Victoria Gonzalez continues to wear a mask.

Gonzalez said, “It’s just normal to me now. It feels weird not wearing it.” Gonzalez said. “Even though we’re all outside, I like to keep it on when I’m around large crowds of students.”

Gonzalez said lifting the indoor mask mandate as well is too soon. She is concerned with other students not being vaccinated.

Her mother, Sandra Gonzalez, also shares the same concern about masks no longer being enforced.

She said that keeping a healthy environment for her daughter at school is essential.

“As a parent, safety for my child means everything to me,” Gonzalez said. “Even though they see the percentage come down, I think it’s better and safer to continue at least for the year.”

On February 28, Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement saying that California continues to adjust policies based on the latest data and science.

The statement came after public health reports showed a decline in California’s COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations.

Other parents at Kennedy high school also say that LAUSD should follow the new update.

Jennifer Rivas said that mask rules should reflect what public health officials advise.

“If health officials say that the requirement isn’t necessary anymore, then I think it’s time to start going back to normal,” Rivas said.

On March 23, LAUSD and United Teachers of Los Angeles reached a new mask update under their tentative agreement. No longer requiring masks indoors, but now moving toward strongly recommended.

Video credit: Vanessa Garcia

By Vanessa Garcia

Contributions from the California Department of Public Health and Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Photos: CalHSS, Vanessa Garcia

Video: Vanessa Garcia


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