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Students may go maskless starting March 12
• Omicron still spreading locally according to Public Health
Masks no more
California students will have the freedom to ditch their masks in class starting on March 12.

Beginning on March 12, the state’s universal K-12 school masking requirement will be dropped in favor of a policy saying masks are still “strongly” recommended.

The policy change will allow individual districts to decide if masks should be required or not.

Local county public health offices in high transmission areas could require masking as could individual districts.

Denise Wickham, superintendent of the Ceres Unified School District, said she didn’t think Monday’s announcement was a huge surprise to staff or families.

“As the cases have continued to decline and more individuals are vaccinated, it makes sense that California Department of Public Health would guide us into fewer restrictions,” said Wickham. “Of course, those who still prefer masks may continue to wear them, if they choose. Staff who has underlying conditions or other medical situations will engage in the interactive process and CUSD will make accommodations as necessary for our employees.

“We will continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students as we adjust to the modified requirements. Our staff and students have demonstrated tremendous resiliency over the past two years and I know they will continue to do so as we all learn to navigate the ‘new normal’ in our schools.”

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency released a statement on Monday stating that schools “should assess their ventilation and the vulnerability of their students to severe COVID19 and implement protective practices that provide the best learning environment. These practices may vary between classrooms, schools, and districts based on the differing vulnerability of students and ventilation of the buildings.”

The agency also stated that case rates for the Omicron variant are “still high but continue to decrease. Most people in Stanislaus County are now protected against severe disease from COVID-19, either from vaccination or previous infection.”

Omicron peaked in Stanislaus County the second week of January and is still spreading “widely” locally, causing the county health agency to urge everyone to wear a mask in indoor public spaces as an additional layer of protection. 

The state still mandates mask wearing for everyone riding on public transit, in healthcare settings, correctional facilities and detention centers, homeless shelters, long-term care settings, and K-12 schools and childcare.

Stanislaus Public Health strongly recommends all to continue following preventative measures for their safety, such as frequent washing hands, staying six feet from others, staying home while sick, wearing a mask, and getting vaccinated and boosted.