State to review school mask mandate on Feb. 28

Survey: Rio students support mandate


Edena Ichel, Mirada Staff

While the state on Feb. 15 lifted the requirement for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in indoor public settings, health officials caution that it is still too soon for schools to lift the mandate. 

On Monday, the state’s top health official, Mark Ghaly, provided an update on the current plan for schools and though the mandate will not be lifted yet, he set Feb. 28 to be the day of a reassessment of the situation. 

He explained that with Covid cases dropping sharply from the peak of the Omicron surge in January the mask mandate will be lifted at some point, and “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.” 

Ghaly pointed out that masks have been useful in stopping the spread of Covid, noting that despite having 12 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren, California has had 1 percent of school closures. 

“Masking has been a valuable tool to keep schools functioning when transmission is high,” Ghaly said

However, he also said,  “masking requirements were never put in place to be there forever.”

Some parents, who believe the mask mandate is past due for being lifted, protested outside San Juan district offices on Tuesday demanding an immediate end to mask requirements for students. However, most Rio students think it is too soon to drop the mandate or are uncertain of it. 

A survey of 168 students on Tuesday found that over 50% favor keeping the mandate in place for now, 20% are uncertain, and 29% want the mandate lifted immediately.

In anonymous comments, students from all different grades shared their opinions, with a majority explaining why masks should continue to be worn.

“I believe that ending the mask mandate for school would be very unfortunate and put many peoples’ families and friends at risk, as well as them,” said one student. “It’s also quite likely that another strain will hit, and in order to prepare for this, wearing masks is necessary.” 

The survey also showed that 72% of students believe that up to now the requirement has been a worthwhile precaution and did not limit their personal liberty. 

Many students opposed to the mandate responded that masks were unneeded or an infringement of their liberty. 

“We don’t need masks anymore; we don’t wear them when we hang out at lunch or outside of school,” said a student who believes wearing masks should be a choice. 

Another believes that “ because Omicron cases are starting to lower and omicron isn’t as serious as other variants we should lift it. We need to start to go back to normal.” 

About 85% of respondents to the survey reported that they were vaccinated, 8% who are unvaccinated and 5% are unvaccinated but plan to in the near future. 

This tops California as a whole, with 70% of the state fully vaccinated.