The San Diego Unified School District is reintroducing its indoor mask mandate for students and staff, at least until the end of summer school, now that the CDC says the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in San Diego County is high.
In May, the district said all schools and district sites would move back under the mandate if the county moved into the highest risk level, which is determined by the CDC and based on hospital capacity-related indicators. Hospitalization rates in San Diego triggered the move into the highest risk category on Thursday.
The summer school mask mandate starts Monday, July 18.
"If you are working at a central office or summer school site, please be sure to wear your mask indoors. Masks will be provided for those who need them. Students and staff will be required to wear their masks while indoors only," a letter to SDUSD staffers read.
Sharon McKeeman, founder of the anti-mask mandate group Let Them Breathe, said the district's decision is harmful and isn't based on science.
“San Diego Unified’s return to masking Monday July 18th is not supported by science and will be harmful to students in summer school who are trying to recuperate from learning loss incurred during school closures. Studies show that masking children makes NO difference in transmission rates, but it does harm social and linguistic development. Let Them Breathe and local families will oppose any returns to forced masking and SDUSD needs to follow the science and revise their policy," a statement from McKeeman read.
County COVID Data as of Thursday (Data reported Monday/Thursday only)
As of Thursday, the average daily rate of COVID-19-positive patients being hospitalized in the county rose to 11.5 per 100,000 residents.
The total number of patients in county hospitals with COVID-19 decreased by three to 395, and those in intensive care units decreased by two to 43 -- the highest numbers since early March. A total of 6.6% of all hospital beds in the county are occupied by people with COVID-19.
The total case rate for San Diego County is 383.01 per 100,000 residents.
According to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, lab-confirmed coronavirus cases remain near 10,000 per week, a number that does not include at-home tests. The HHSA also reported it has also seen an increase in re-infections of San Diegans who have tested positive for COVID-19 several times throughout the pandemic. Prior infection does not necessarily prevent re-infection with some of the newer virus variants, according to national data.
Additionally, hospitalizations for COVID-related illnesses are also on the rise, up 66% in the last 30 days, the HHSA said last week. New ICU admissions rose 68% during that same time frame.
The county reported 1,311 new infections and six deaths related to the virus on Monday, increasing the cumulative totals to 851,528 cases and 5,363 deaths.