Masks At California Schools Will Continue To Be Required – Deadline

California Director of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly on Monday confirmed that after tomorrow the state will “move from a requirement to a strong recommendation of indoor masking.”

One place where masks will still be required: in the state’s schools. Ghaly said California’s “science-driven approach” would be to keep the mandate in place for kids in grades TK-12 and then in two weeks, on February 28, reassess the need for face covers in schools. He said he thought, at that point, “with some specificity that we will be able to give a date when the requirement will move to a recommendation.”

Ghaly indicated that one prime consideration is the low vaccination rates among CA kids under 11 years old.

Currently, 70% of the state’s total population is fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate for kids between 5 and 11 years old in the state, however, is just about 28%.

He shared a chart detailing some of the other variables.


Asked about parents who are tired and outraged that their children are still required to wear masks at school, he said, “I hear the frustration from many parents. But the message is today that in two weeks… that we anticipate making the change. ” Ghaly also said such a change will be predicated upon Covid numbers continuing to fall.

“Parents should not hear that we aren’t making a move,” Ghaly said. He said the state is only “taking a little more time” to ensure metrics continue on a downward path.

The HHS director indicated that the key to the state was prioritizing “safe, in-person instruction,” flexibility and assuring residents that masking was not “intended to be in place in perpetuity.”


The conditions that indicated the lifting of the larger indoor mask mandate were that cases had started to come down dramatically, according to the director. Also, the so-called “R-effective” had dropped below 1, which means that every person infected would go on to spread the virus to less than 1 other person.

Since January 14, daily cases have dropped over 75%, test positivity is down about 73% and hospitalizations are down more than 40%, he said. Deaths, however, are still rising. Ghaly noted those are a lagging indicator which generally rise and fall weeks after changes in cases and hospitalizations.

“We are anticipating that in the coming weeks, deaths will decline as well,” Ghaly said. “The idea that we’ll continue to see reductions in numbers is key to the decisions we’re making now.

The state is lifting the mandate by letting its current health officer order lapse. That order’s last day in effect is February 15, meaning that on the 16th fully-vaccinated Californians can doff their face coverings. They will still be “strongly recommended.” Those in counties with stricter requirements will still need to abide by local restrictions.


Beyond the mask mandates, the HHS director confirmed Governor Gavin Newsom is readying his plan for moving the state from a pandemic footing to an endemic footing. Newsom has said he would reveal the specifics of that this week. He also hinted that unmasking in schools may be tied to students’ vaccination status.

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