After more than two years, California public schools and childcare centers lifted the mask mandate on Monday, per the latest guidance from the state.
Brittany McLean, a 6th grade teacher at Oceano Elementary, told KSBY, “If we're in close quarters, [I] put on my mask and model that that's something that is appropriate as well, and it doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation.”
“It's one less thing to have to manage in the classroom. It lets us focus on our teaching and on managing other behaviors instead of having to give reminders to put your mask on," added Alisyn Blanton a 5th grade teacher at Miguelito Elementary School.
Some teachers already spoke with their students about the change.
“I think some of them are looking forward to it. Others may have a little bit of anxiety about it, but nothing that's been too concerning,” said Sophia Garcia, a 6th grade teacher at Oceano Elementary.
“I teach upper grades, but especially in the lower grades when they are trying to learn to read and they're trying to learn phonics and letter sounds, so much comes with the shape of your mouth and how you use your mouth. That matters a lot. So I know, especially in lower grades, that makes a big difference for them,” Blanton added.
With the new guidance, schools and childcare settings must allow any individual to wear a mask if they want to.
Blanton said, “I think it'll be a little bit of a new normal because we're going to have a combination of both mask wearers and not mask wearers.”
Quarantine measures are still in place, and they depend on whether the student is vaccinated, showing symptoms, and whether they were wearing a mask during the time of the potential exposure.
Lompoc Unified School District says weekly testing for unvaccinated staff will take place, alongside mitigation measures on campus, including keeping doors and windows open.