Los Angeles County health officials announced Monday that, following new state recommendations, they too will make masking indoors optional for schools.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health said it will align school masking measures with the state and shift to strongly recommending indoor masking requirements at childcare sites and K-12 schools beginning March 12.
School districts, however, may continue to require masking at schools and during school activities.
“We will review any additional state guidance changes and provide an update on additional modifications to LA County safety measures during tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting,” the statement reads.
The adjustment to the mask mandates comes after California officials announced the state will drop school masking requirements after March 11, leaving the decision up to districts and local jurisdictions.
Currently, California students and teachers have to wear masks indoors at K-12 schools statewide, regardless of vaccination status. But after next week, masks will be a recommendation rather than a requirement.
Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, said in a statement Monday evening that it continues to monitor COVID-19 positivity rates to inform its safety protocols.
“We are committed to upholding our science-driven approach to COVID-19 protocols and will continue to consult with our medical director and health partners as we work to establish an updated mask policy,” the statement reads.
“We respect the voices of all stakeholders, and as such, we will remain engaged with our labor partners, employees and families as we maintain and seek practices that are protective, responsive and in the best interest of our school communities,” the statement continues.
LAUSD has an agreement with its teachers union to require masks indoors at least through the end of the school year.
The powerful teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, said in a statement to KTLA that while declining COVID-19 rates are promising, educators strongly recommend that masking stay in place in schools.
“LAUSD schools have been the safest and most well equipped in the country because educators and families united to demand critical health and safety protocols,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in the statement. “These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families. It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”