Students in California, Oregon and Washington will no longer be required to wear masks at school as part of new indoor mask policies all three states announced jointly on Monday. The three governors said in a joint statement: “With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the West, California, Oregon and Washington are moving together to update their masking guidance.” Separately, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Sunday that the statewide school mask mandate will end Wednesday, March 2nd.
The new guidance will make face coverings a recommendation rather than a requirement at most indoor places in California starting today (Tuesday, March 1st) and at schools on March 12, regardless of vaccination status. In Washington and Oregon, all the requirements will lift on March 12. Federal mask requirements will still apply in high-risk indoor settings such as public transportation, airports and taxis. Rules for other high-risk indoor settings could also vary by state.
The announcement also comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased the federal mask guidance Friday, saying the majority of Americans don’t need to wear masks in many indoor public places, including schools. The new CDC guidance bases recommendations for restrictions such as masking on a new set of measures, with less focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals. Under the new system, the CDC said that more than 70% of Americans live in places where the coronavirus poses a low or medium threat to hospitals and therefore can stop wearing masks in most indoor places. The CDC had endorsed universal masking in schools regardless of virus levels in the community since July, but it now recommends masks in schools only in counties at high risk.
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