UPDATED at 9:20 p.m.: Los Angeles County may be lifting its indoor mask mandate, but the massive Los Angeles Unified School District is not — not yet, anyway.
Shortly after the Los Angeles County Public Health said it “will align school masking measures with the state and shift to strongly recommending indoor masking requirements at childcare sites and K-12 schools beginning March 12,” new LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho pumped the brakes on the notion that the nation’s second-largest school district was going along for the ride.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Carvalho wrote that the district “recognizes the updated health guidance” and said it is “committed to upholding our science-driven approach.” Then, with and artful turn of non-committal phrasing he wrote, “We respect the voices of all stakeholders, and as such, we will remain engaged with our labor partners, employees and families as we maintain and seek practices that are protective, responsive and in the best interest of our school communities.”
Update on COVID-19 safety protocols. pic.twitter.com/PvfeD9EJPf
— Alberto M. Carvalho (@LAUSDSup) March 1, 2022
It should be noted that the new masking guidance has been months in the making and was telegraphed by health officials. In fact, weeks ago California even offered a date: February 28.
Carvalho’s language is likely not a mistake, given the stance of one of the powerful stakeholders he mentioned.
Late today, United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said, according to the Los Angeles Times, “It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”
PREVIOUSLY at 1:30 p.m.: Shortly after the State of California announced it was lifting indoor masking requirements in nearly every indoor environment, Los Angeles County health officials decided to lift indoor masking requirements in schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second-largest in the country.
Per the L.A. Department of Public Health:
We appreciate the continued leadership from the state as they adjust masking guidance to reflect the improving conditions across many communities. LA County Public Health will align school masking measures with the state and shift to strongly recommending indoor masking requirements at childcare sites and K-12 schools beginning March 12. School districts may continue to require masking at schools and during school activities and are encouraged to consult with teachers, staff, parents and students as they consider the appropriate safety protections for their school community, recognizing that many individuals may want to continue additional protections. We will review any additional state guidance changes and provide an update on additional modifications to LA County safety measures during tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Those “additional modifications” that the state made today include the end of masking requirements in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status — except for health care, prison and other congregate settings. Currently, L.A. county still requires preventative measures indoors in relation to unvaccinated people.
Los Angeles health officials have been under pressure from County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn to lift those measures, but have long chosen to move more slowly than the state and most of its other counties.
We appreciate the continued leadership from the state as they adjust masking guidance to reflect the improving conditions across many communities. (1/4)
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) February 28, 2022
PREVIOUSLY on February 19: Los Angeles Unified School District will drop outdoor masking requirement for students and staff next week, the schools superintendent announced Friday. However, masks will still be required indoors at schools across the state.
“In alignment with the Department of Public Health and with guidance from our medical director and health partners, outdoor masking will be optional for all individuals in Los Angeles Unified Schools effective February 22 2022,” Supt. Alberto Carvalho said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The policy will take effect on Tuesday because schools are closed Monday for the President’s Day holiday. Those participating in athletics on Monday can unmask while outside, Carvalho said.
The LAUSD spring semester saw mask rules tightened by the omicron variant surge. All staff were required to wear medical-grade masks and students were told to mask up outdoors.
Students were urged to wear “well-fitted, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” at all times.
Outrage over pictures from the recent Super Bowl in L.A. outraged many. The shots depicted many celebrities and politicians without masks.