The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the United States, will lift requirements for indoor masks for students and staff next week in an agreement with the teachers’ union, the district announced Friday.
The new policy will go into effect “by Wednesday” and masking in classrooms will still be strongly recommended, the district said in its announcement. Los Angeles Unified had been one of the last stragglers after California dropped the school mask mandate on March 11. Teachers in the city had pushed for higher vaccination coverage among students before relaxing the requirement.
“I strongly support ending the requirement for indoor masks and am committed to continuing to uphold our science-based approach to Covid-19 safety and protocols,” Chief Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in the statement. “We know that some in our school communities and offices will continue to wear masks, while others may not. Please consider your situation and do what is best for you or your child.”
Like other states, California has seen the number of coronavirus infections fall rapidly in recent weeks as the Omicron wave subsides. As part of the agreement, the district will attempt to conduct PCR testing on all students and employees by the end of the school year.
A February poll found broad support in the state for continued coronavirus measures in schools, including vaccine mandates and mask requirements. Four out of 10 parents said they weren’t sure their children could be protected from the virus at school.
New York City’s school district, the nation’s largest, will no longer require masks on March 7. Across the country, 92 percent of schools have dropped the mandate for masks, according to Burbio, a data company that tracks school reopening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to recommend masking in schools.