Indoor Mask Mandate is Lifted; Schools to Remain Masked


Claire Seo

Sara Bottalico, AP Biology teacher, reviews instructions about genetic variation. Due to the 65% decrease in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Newsom lifted the mask mandate, but schools must remain wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

California officials announced on Feb. 14 that schools will continue to enforce masks indoors, regardless of the lifted mask mandate for vaccinated people.

The state’s updated mask mandate excludes unvaccinated individuals and all students and education workers. However, the indoor mask requirement still applies to high-risk areas like hospitals, nursing homes, and public transportation, regardless of vaccination status.

For now, schools in California are “keeping its school masking requirements in place at least through the end of the month, but [state] officials said they will reassess on Feb. 28 and make an announcement,” California Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said. These reassessments will be based on “hospitalization rates and ICU capacities,”according to Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Agency and County Health Officer.

Despite large social events complying to the “state-wide indoor mask requirement,” Orange County Superintendents requested for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to “announce a criteria for easing school masking requirements and other COVID-19 protocols based on countywide health data.”

Currently, Los Angeles County has announced that a new Health Order will be established by Friday if the order is declared by the Department of Public Health. This new health plan will allow vaccinated individuals to “remove their masks indoors within places that check for proof of vaccination,” according to Supervisor Janice Hahn. 

Since the Omicron peak, “California’s case rate has decreased by 65% [and] hospitalizations have been stabilized across the state,” allowing “mega” events and locations (indoor events consisting of over 1,000 people and outdoor events with more than 10,000) to ease their mask requirements. Some of these locations include:

  • For Disneyland, “vaccinated visitors are no longer required to wear masks indoors,” after Feb. 17. “Unvaccinated visitors two years and older still are expected to wear masks in indoor attractions and queues,” according to the park’s website.
  • Coachella “plans to return with no masks or vaccines required” this year, according to the New York Times.
  • Legoland announced on their website that after Feb. 15, face masks are required in all indoor settings for non-vaccinated guests.”
  • Stagecoach Country Music Festival will completely remove mask requirements for “guests, vaccinated or tested,” and is “set to run for three days in late April and early May,” according to the New York Times.

According to Brinda C. Leon, BOUSD Deputy Superintendent, BOUSD schools are required to continue obeying the “current mask regulations until the Governor takes action to develop an exit strategy for the mask mandate or eliminates it all together.”

However, as of now, “there are little nuances to the mandate. But, as far as I know, it looks like there won’t be any [policy] changes in the near future regarding our school,” Eric Barrientos, assistant principal, said.

BOUSD sent out an email to the Brea community on Feb. 11, stating that “the District understands and empathizes with [the] community and staff on the various viewpoints” involving masking requirements in schools. 

“We appreciate the community’s and staff’s support, and we will continue to monitor the situation and let you know of any changes,” Leon said.