Indoor masking becomes voluntary starting March 12

Gavin Newsom announces mask mandate lift at K-12 schools in California

A+lone+mask+being+stepped+on+and+discarded

Sophia Lippel / the Talon

A lone mask being stepped on and discarded

Mina Jung and Allie Wang

Voluntary indoor masking for students at K-12 schools in California will effectively take place starting Saturday, March 12, according to Gavin Newsom’s announcement on the morning of Feb. 28. This policy was also adopted by Oregon and Washington Governors Kate Brown and Jay Inslee, respectively. 

Until 11:59 p.m. on March 11, indoor masking is still mandatory for students and staff on school grounds. According to a StudentSquare post issued on Feb. 28, schools that lift the mandate before this date are subject to liability issues and loss of insurance coverage.

Following these state guidelines and confirmation from the Ventura County Department of Public Health, Oak Park Unified School District will allow voluntary masking beginning March 12 for its students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status. 

“It’s going to be weird with masks gone but also kind of a relief because it’s a sign that COVID’s kind of going away,” junior Raahil Pattan wrote to the Talon. 

The decision comes from the California Department of Public Health’s statement that the various statistics surrounding COVID-19 will “reflect a much lower risk of transmission in schools” by March 11, according to the StudentSquare post. 

Some OPHS students were happy with the news, but are still planning to wear their masks.

“I will wear my mask, but I’m going to be taking more breaks,” junior Ronith Vishal wrote to the Talon.

While masks will not be required indoors in school settings after March 11, they are strongly recommended as per California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.  OPUSD states they respect students and staff who wish to keep their masks on or wish to voice the opinion for masking to be removed entirely.

“Our decision to adhere strictly to state guidelines — not more, not less — has enabled us to continue in-person learning while weathering the COVID-19 storm,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Davis and Director of Student Support and School Safety Brad Benioff wrote in the StudentSquare post. “Thank you for your collaboration as we continue to navigate what is hopefully, the move toward an endemic state.”