California lifts indoor school mask mandate

By CITRUS VALLEY ETHIC STAFF

After two years of the pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the removal of the indoor school mask mandate to be effective on March 12. This shift in mask policy corresponds with Newsom’s Feb. 18 announcement that California had shifted into the phase of treating coronavirus as an endemic. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “We’re moving toward a time when COVID isn’t a crisis, but it’s something we can protect against and treat.”

Armani Silberzahn a sophomore states “I’m honestly really happy about it, masks were never really an issue for me to wear but if I had a choice I wouldn’t wear them. I literally just wore them for whatever safety they provided and others comfortability.”

“Several states are moving to eliminate mask mandates as the number of reported coronavirus cases dips to its lowest level since December, when the highly contagious Omicron variant touched off a wave of cases,” according to the New York Times. 

Sophia Piper, a junior at Citrus Valley said, “I think it will make a divide between people with a mask and people without one. Some people won’t care. But it will definitely make a divide in the classroom.”

Posted signs around Citrus Valley High School remind staff and students to wear a mask. The school indoor mask mandate ends in California, effective after March 11. (BELLA ESPINOZA/ Ethic News photo)

A study researching COVID’s secondary attack rates focused on eight public school districts in Massachusetts, with around 70 schools and a little over 33,000 enrolled students, during the 2020–21 school year. The study found a secondary attack rate of 11.7% for the unmasked students versus the 1.7% for masked students.

Rebecca Garcia, Citrus Valley freshman, said, ”I believe the mask mandate should still be in effect. We can’t always rely on what the government says because sometimes we know our own communities better.”

With the mask mandate now taking its leave, many Americans have been urged to receive the COVID vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine received full FDA approval after tens of thousands of clinical trials spanning up to twelve months, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“I believe the mandate was good the way it was already,” said Christopher Kuzdal, a senior at Citrus Valley.  “Since the mandate was organized so that masks were only required indoors, I think that created a good combination of masks on and off. I think at the very least, masks should be required indoors to help stop the spread.”

Up to 70% of Californians have taken the vaccine with 72M doses administered as of Mar. 9, according to Our World in Data.

In regards to mask-wearing once the mandate is lifted, Citrus Valley English teacher Stephen Howard said, “I will probably keep it on for a while depending on how the kids are doing with it. If kids are still wearing the mask I want to do what they are doing. Supporting them and what and what their choices are.”

According to the CDC, “A study of an outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an environment notable for congregate living quarters and close working environments, found that use of face coverings on-board was associated with a 70% reduced risk of infection.”

Fernando Ramirez, Citrus Valley physical education teacher, said that he respects “people that might have compromised immune system or family members or close friends that have those issues so if they prefer me to have a mask on, I will put it on in respect to them, but if it is okay not to have it, I’ll have it off.”

A re-enactment of a student tossing a face mask into the trash can near the Citrus Valley High School outdoor quad area. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the school mask mandate will be effective after March 11. (BELLA ESPINOZA/ Ethic News photo)

K-12 schools in California will mandate the vaccine starting Jan. 1 2023 as announced by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Ramirez’s said that people “should be able to make their own choice for their own health while also exhibiting a consensus for their community. So as long as they are considerate of other people they can make good decisions.”

“I would love it if we would be more responsible when we don’t feel well and wear a mask. Hopefully we will be moving out of this,” said Howard.

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