Indoor masking will no longer be mandatory at K-12 schools and child care facilities after midnight tonight. While masking will no longer be required in California schools, public health officials continue to “strongly recommend” masking in indoor public settings.

What does this mean for your kids? It depends on which district you’re in. Some districts are taking the state’s recommendation as a suggestion, while others have taken a more cautious approach and opted to keep the mandate in place. 

“I think [Public Health has] made it very clear that we still strongly recommend that schools continue to mask after March 11,” former Humboldt County Public Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said during a press briefing last week. “…This is a highly unvaccinated population on the whole, being that only about 25 to 30% [are fully vaccinated] statewide and locally, but there are trade-offs. They’re also much less likely to have severe outcomes. I think that moving towards this is really something that allows for each community to make the decisions for themselves and each individual and make the decision for themselves.”

Hoffman acknowledged that some parents may feel it is too soon to lift the mask mandate but said, “If [Public Health] felt the risk was too high, we would certainly keep the requirements in place.”

Michael Davies-Hughes, Superintendent of Schools for Humboldt County, told the Outpost that the Humboldt County Office of Education will no longer require masking for students and staff after March 11. “However, since several of our programs are located at schools in other districts, we will honor their requirements, which may be more restrictive,” he added.

“Keep in mind that our youngest learners below age [five] are not eligible for a vaccine at this time,” he said. “Schools also have individuals with compromised immune systems and other health concerns on their campuses. Some school districts may choose to continue to require masking. In the absence of such local decisions, students and families will need to make a decision that is best for them.”

“Regardless of individual choices, our responsibility as citizens is to be kind, accepting, respectful and safe,” he added.

The Outpost reached out to a handful of local school districts and it looks as though there is a mixed approach to the mask mandate being lifted.

Fred Van Vleck, Superintendent of the Eureka City Unified School District, and Glen Senestraro, Superintendent of the Fortuna Union High School District, told the Outpost that their districts would continue to strongly recommend masking and both encouraged parents to talk with their children about what is most comfortable for them.

The Rio Dell Elementary School Board unanimously voted to ditch the mask mandate ahead of public health’s announcement as “the prevalence of COVID-19 has decreased dramatically and the community widely supports student choice.”

“The Rio Dell Elementary School Board recognizes the importance of an academic rigorous classroom and also recognizes that constant mask reminders and reprimands during the instructional time can be disruptive to the learning environment,” according to a Feb. 17 statement shared by district Superintendent Angela Johnson. “…The Rio Dell School District will move forward with its continued focus on the academic instruction for our students and will encourage students to wear a mask indoors but will not seek disciplinary action for those students that do not comply.”

Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District Superintendent Jennifer Glueck said her district will move with caution and “will continue to require that masks be worn indoors at all [district] settings, even after the state mandate expires,” according to the district’s website.

More information from the California Department of Public Health can be found here.