California is joining Washington and Oregon in lifting mask requirements over the next two weeks.
“We’re very pleased and optimistic about the direction we are now at,” said Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado.
“Starting tomorrow, public indoor masking for unvaccinated and vaccinated is no longer required, it is strongly recommended,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency.
The State of California is changing its masking guidelines for public indoor areas as well as in schools and childcare facilities.
“California is among the lowest pediatric hospitalizations compared to other states and this is in part about the important mitigation tools that we’ve equipped schools with throughout the school year,” Dr. Ghaly said.
Public indoor masking moves from required to strongly recommended for those vaccinated and unvaccinated beginning March 1.
Schools and childcare facilities are lifting the masking requirement on March 12.
“We’re just happy we’re here and our children can go back to what schools are about,” Maldonado said.
“In a day where we focus on masking, I want to take a moment to remind folks of the strength and benefits of vaccines that they do save lives, reduce transmission, and that they’ve been a key part of the success that has helped California have a winning formula compared to other large states,” Ghaly said.
The state is strongly recommending masking to protect others who may be vulnerable.
“We are cognizant of our families who may be immunocompromised and are feeling anxiety about what this new reality is going to look like,” Maldonado added.
Health care and long-term care facilities, jails, and prisons will continue to require masking.
The Atascadero Unified School District said it will be fully implementing this guidance on March 14, 2022. In the meantime, if there are any further official announcements that allow for an earlier legal adoption of mask choice in the classroom, then AUSD is fully ready to implement those immediately.
SLO County Public Health also made a statement regarding the announcement Monday, saying:
SLO County is in alignment with the State and will not be enacting more stringent guidance. Effective March 1, statewide and in SLO County, masking will move from required to strongly recommended in all indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Effective March 12, masking will move from required to strongly recommended in school and childcare settings. Individual schools, childcare settings, and businesses will have the option to enact more stringent precautions based on local risk factors, such as transmission levels. Universal masking will remain mandatory in healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters, corrections, long-term care facilities, and public transit. While there is reason for optimism, at this time Public Health continues to strongly recommend universal masking in public indoor spaces as SLO County vaccination rates remain lower than the State average, and transmission remains elevated.