California school mask mandates are coming back to districts as the new subvariant rages through the state.
We’re more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. And for most accounts, life has – in a sense – returned to a type of normal. By the end of this past school year, the majority of schools across the nation were no longer requiring students and staff to mask up. For those who opposed them, this was a sign of hope that the coming start of school this fall would see more of the same. But as a new subvariant of the highly-contagious virus now rears its ugly head throughout the nation, school mask mandates are already coming back. In California, San Diego schools have already reinstated the policy, and more districts are expected to follow suit.
NBC San Diego reported that effective this past Monday, July 18th, the San Diego Unified School District would reimpose the school mask mandate indefinitely. This ruling applies to everyone that is currently involved with summer school programs within the school. No one is exempt, including those who are vaccinated. The decision was made under district protocol, which allows districts to require masking if local positive rates of the virus hit certain thresholds.
The district sent out a letter to school staff and an email to families making them aware of the school mask mandate. The measure will require everyone to wear a mask while inside school buildings, as it urged families to bring in their own masks if they did not want to be forced to wear surgical ones that would be handed out by school officials. For now, there is no set end date on the mandate, and it may run into the start of the school year, which will be at the end of August.
While the decision has outraged many locals, it follows procedures that were put in place by the school district last May, as to how and when they would reimpose school mask mandates, if necessary. The set of metrics looks at school outbreaks of the virus, as well as information reported from the CDC regarding local hospitalizations. Now meeting those metrics, the city, and most of California has repeated a sharp increase in positive tests and hospitalizations.
The news subvariants of the highly contagious Omicron are – much like its predecessor sublineages – reported as being more infectious than previous versions, leading to more school mask mandates. The LA Times recently reported that it is spreading like wildfire in the state of California, and causing outbreaks at higher levels than reported this past winter during the height of the Omicron wave. What’s more, it seems to be immune to vaccines and is reinfecting those who have recently come down with the virus at higher rates than ever reported.
San Diego public schools aren’t the first this summer to reimpose school mask mandates. UC Irvine also reinstated there mask policy for all indoor settings this summer, as well as UCLA. Similarly, Los Angeles recently ruled a new universal mask mandate policy, which may soon lead to public schools in the major city reinstating the face coverings as well. If this is a sign of things to come, it seems that students across the nation may once again start the school year required to mask up when going to school.