Mask Mandates In California Schools Will Remain Through At Least February 28
At the end of today, the statewide California mask mandate applicable in all public indoor settings expires. As we published yesterday, under the new guidance, starting tomorrow, vaccinated employees and customers may no longer be required to wear masks indoors, in most California settings. Of course, if you are in one of the few counties or municipalities with a local health order requiring masking, indoor masking may still be necessary.
One of several industries not effected by the new statewide policy is the education sector. There are no changes to the state mask requirements in California preschools or K-12 schools. Thus, students, teachers, coaches, and other educators throughout the state are required to continue to mask up when indoors, notwithstanding the lifting of the more general mask mandate.
Yesterday, in a live press conference, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly announced that existing mask mandates for California schools will not be lifted for at least two weeks. Dr. Ghaly indicated that, over the next two weeks, the state plans to review data based on cases, hospitalization rates, vaccination rates, and the overall national trends. The state will then determine whether or not mask mandates should be modified/lifted. Any decision will not be effective until at least February 28, 2022. No specific criteria were identified explaining exactly how the state authorities will determine if the school mask mandate will be lifted and/or whether new, more flexible, guidance will be issued, or whether the state will simply leave it up to the local school districts or local health departments to determine the rules.
Thus, if you are a school employer in California, you will need to continue to mandate mask wearing indoors for at least two more weeks. By the end of the month, we should know whether or not the mask mandate in schools will be lifted and, if so, whether there will be any statewide replacement standard. We will continue to keep you updated on this issue.