After allowing virtually everyone except the least at-risk demographic to participate in society without masks, California will no longer require masks in schools starting March 12, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The move comes as Covid-19 cases and deaths have plummeted precipitously to pre-Omicron levels, as the far-less deadly strain continues to make up virtually all current cases.
Earlier this month, the Golden State showered its residents with news that masks would no longer be required indoors for the unvaccinated - repealing a mandate that had been in place since December's Omicron spike. Starting March 1, however, masks will only be recommended and not required for unvaccinated individuals indoors.
We're guessing that keeping kids masked while letting adults galavant around the state bare-faced was just too much absurdity for even California. Yet...
None of the elderly people in congress have to wear a mask at the State of the Union, but children have to wear them for two more weeks. https://t.co/9NbgKVy4xE— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) February 28, 2022
That said, masks will still be required for people in 'high transmission' settings such as public transit, emergency shelters, jails and prisons, healthcare facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities, according to the Bee.
"California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic," said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement. "Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward."
The Golden State is updating its masking policies at the same time as Oregon and Washington state, though the changes are not identical.
Oregon will stop requiring masks in indoor public spaces in schools on March 12 as well. Washington will also lift its indoor mask mandate at that time, but will stick with its original plan to lift the school mask mandate on March 21.
“As has been made clear time and again over the last two years, COVID-19 does not stop at state borders or county lines,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in a statement “On the West Coast, our communities and economies are linked. Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resiliency and prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic.”
California, Oregon and Washington are among only 13 states that still have mask mandates in place for classrooms, drawing ire from conservatives and some parent groups. Frustrated with state leaders, some California school districts have opted to forego the state law and allow students to choose if they want to wear masks. -Sac Bee
On Friday, Newsom announced plans to lift several other statewide orders issued during the pandemic.