The state delivered almost 2 million N95 masks to the San Diego County Office of Education, which is overseeing distribution to school districts.
The first batch of masks are all adult sizes, so children in grades 7 through 12 , as well as school staff, will receive them first. Another 6 million masks are expected in future shipments, which should include masks for small children.
If all 8 million masks are delivered, it would mean every student and staff member in public schools, including charter schools, as well as students and staff in private schools, would each receive 10 masks.
"The idea behind it is now science is showing higher quality masks can make a difference in the spread of COVID-19, so we hope to get these out to schools just as quickly as we can, to be doing our part to slow the spread," SDUSD Chief of Staff, Music Watson, said.
Parent Heather Dugdale who has children in the San Dieguito Union High School District said, "They’re getting them at the right time. Omicron is clearly much more dangerous, and we really, really do need these masks."
Like other districts, San Dieguito is experiencing a high absentee rate because of COVID. The district began the week with 850 students restricted from campus, compared to 250 at the beginning of last week, according to an email to district families Superintendent Doctor Cheryl Ward sent Monday.
“Two-fifths of my family is positive and most of my friends have at least one student, one child who is positive, so it’s pretty shocking,” said Dugdale. “But it also seems in line with county numbers of 7%. It’s pretty shocking.”
Dugdale said her three children are vaccinated and boosted. Two got COVID and experienced mild to no symptoms. She was not worried from a health perspective, she said, but from an academic and mental health perspective.
“It’s a huge issue for them trying to keep up with their schoolwork and all of that," she said.
Her daughter tested negative Tuesday morning and went back to school after eight days in quarantine.
“Gosh, she was so relieved and excited… I mean I’ve never seen a kid get ready for school so fast in my life. She was just very very happy and excited," Dugdale said.