Masks May Be Coming Back for Students, Staff at San Diego Unified

San Diego County's largest school district said the possibility will be determined on a school-by-school basis

NBC Universal, Inc.

Increasing COVID-19 cases have prompted the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) to warn of a possible return to mandatory face masks, it announced in a letter to its staff and students.

California’s second-largest school district on Monday sent a letter to its community that masks could return as soon as Wednesday for certain schools if risk levels are met. Possible mandates will be determined on a school-by-school basis if the criteria the following is met:

  • If 10% or more of the student population is absent for three consecutive days due to illness
  • If, within the past 14 days, at least three outbreaks have occurred on campus and more than 5% of the school population is infected

SDUSD considers three or more COVID-19 cases in an individual classroom or group to be an outbreak.

Should schools be considered at either risk level, facial coverings will be required indoors for at least 14 days. If San Diego County is considered to be in the high level of risk for contracting COVID-19 per CDC Community Level standards, indoor masking will be required across the district. As of Tuesday, the region is considered to be low risk.

SDUSD said families will be notified if their school is impacted by the new safety strategy.

At this point, however, not a single school in the district has met the new metrics for mandatory masks. 

“We don’t anticipate that any schools will reach that level tomorrow, and probably not even by the end of the school year,” school board trustee Richard Barrera told NBC 7 on Tuesday.

In other COVID-related news, the district's board plans during Tuesday night's meeting to consider moving its vaccine mandate back one year, to July 2023. The mandate was supposed to go into effect this July, but the board may instead align with the state's plan instead. Organizers of the Let Them Breathe organization, though, claim the altered timetable is being considered because of legal action it's taken and the pressure it's put on the district. 

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