California keeping school mask mandate in place through end of month
California’s top health official announced Monday the state would require masking inside schools through at least the end of February.
Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said during a video call with reporters on Monday a mask mandate for schools would be in place through Feb. 28, at which point “we anticipate being able to share what the next period of time will look like and with some specificity give a date when the masking requirement will move to a recommendation.”
Ghaly stressed officials will look at a range of indicators to inform their decision, including coronavirus case numbers, hospitalization rates, vaccination rates and national and global trends.
He said officials were not planning on using a vaccination threshold within their masking guidance, adding “the point is that as we anticipate changes — now’s a great time to get vaccinated. It’s an important time to get vaccinated, and we encourage people to do so.”
Ghaly’s remarks come as state and local officials across the country weigh changing masking guidance inside public places and schools as the coronavirus surge caused by the omicron variant appears to be receding. A number of governors and state officials have dropped or said they plan to drop indoor mask mandates for businesses in the coming weeks, and a smaller number have done the same for schools.
National health officials, however, are still emphasizing the need to continue masking, for now.
“I think that as the pandemic gets better, we should be pulling back on restrictions. The conversation now is about what should determine when that happens,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told The Associated Press in an interview last week.
He noted he could seek a future without masking but added, “I can’t tell you if it’s coming in a couple of months or in six months or in 12 months.”