San Diego Unified School District will allow students and staff to go mask-free indoors when they return to campus from spring break on April 4, the district announced Thursday.
The change in stance comes one day after the CDC recategorized COVID-19 community transmission in San Diego County from high to low.
The former rating, plus historical case surges following extended holidays, were reasons SDSUD said earlier this week it would wait until at least mid-April to drop its indoor mandate despite Governor Gavin Newsom saying on Monday that masks indoors would become an option for districts after March 12.
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"Again, following Spring Break, masks will be strongly recommended but no longer required (except when required by public health orders under special circumstances, such as students attending school while quarantining.)" the district told staff and families Friday.
The district said it will be providing students with at-home COVID tests to use before returning to schools after spring break.
"This strategy worked extremely well before Winter Break, and we are grateful to have enough tests to be able to repeat the process," the disitrct said.
If the CDC assessment of community transmission in San Diego changes, SDUSD said it will be ready to resume its indoor masking policy.
On Tuesday, SDUSD board member Richard Barrera said the district was unlikely to consider lifting the indoor mask requirement before mid-April, citing case surges following past vacation breaks. Barrera told NBC 7 that at that point, the district will want to make sure rates continue to decrease or, at the very least, remain stable.
Following the Governor's announcement Monday, San Diego County Board of Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher said it was a "safe and responsible step in the right direction."
"We’ve had one of the lowest school closure rates in the nation, but due to availability of the vaccine and therapeutic treatments, it is now time to resume our lives without COVID dominating daily action," Fletcher said in a statement.