(The Center Square) – Months after California lifted its mask mandate for schools, San Diego Unified School District reinstated an indoor mask requirement this week as the region sees a rise in COVID-19 transmission.
The mask requirement, which took effect Monday, primarily impacts students and teachers involved in summer school and enrichment programs. The requirement applies to all schools and district offices, according to an announcement from the district.
The decision to require indoor masking came after San Diego County entered the “high” COVID-19 community level – a metric established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that considers new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 over seven days. In May, the school district published parameters for indoor masking, which included returning to indoor masking if the county reached the “high” community level.
San Diego Unified School District Board President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne told KUSI News Monday that the school district could implement an indoor mask requirement in the fall if rates remain high. She noted that for students who do not want to wear a mask during school, there are online options available for the fall, though these options do not exist for summer programs.
If students do not want to wear a mask during summer school “they should just make it known that they don’t feel comfortable and at that point, just not return,” Whitehurst-Payne said. At this time, there are about two weeks of summer school left for high school students and one week left for younger students, according to KUSI.
In an announcement, the school district said it will “continue to monitor the COVID-19 community level according to the CDC and County data and we will communicate if there are any changes in two weeks.”
More than 30 California counties are in the “high” community transmission level, according to the CDC. Los Angeles County is one of those counties, and local health officials said last week that a mask mandate could take effect this Friday, July 29, according to the Los Angeles Times.