CA loosens masking rules in schools, but not all Bay Area districts will follow the new guidance

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Despite California Governor Gavin Newsom setting the target date of mid-March for optional indoor masking in schools, it's ultimately up to each school district to implement a policy that aligns with local health officials.

What were mask requirements could soon become mask recommendations after March 11 in many California public schools.

"It's important the state gave school districts a period of time between the announcement and being able to enact the policy," Jeff Freitas, President of the California Federatipn of Teachers said.

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"It's still highly recommended to wear masks, so school districts will need to look into what are the metrics in their own community," he said.

Already, San Francisco Unified is decisively looking through a lens of equity, as they announced they will not change their masking protocols after March 11. They will still be required inside.

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California is lifting its mask mandate in schools on March 12. Gov. Newsom says masks will no longer be required, but will be "strongly recommended."

Oakland Unified said they will wait for further guidance from the county before making a final decision, as did Dublin Unified.

"We will be looking to hear from Alameda Public Health because as you know local health agencies can be more restrictive," Superintendent Chris Funk of the Dublin Unified School District said.

"Dublin will not be more restrictive than what the public health is. We assume they'll be aligned with the state," he said.

Berkeley Unified lifted their outdoor masking mandate this week. But they too are waiting for health guidance on masking indoors.

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Trish McDermott with Berkeley Unified said, "We are making no announcement relative to indoor masking. We are reviewing what's coming out of the governors office today and we expect to hear from our local health jurisdiction, that's the city of Berkeley local health department and then meet with our school leaders and our labor partners to really understand what the guidance is."

Some parents say they think optional masks will vastly improve learning. Others say they will still send their kids to school with masks on.

Still others land in the middle, saying their feelings about masks in schools are evolving.

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