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San Diego Unified Ends Outdoor Masking

NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified Ends Outdoor Masking, Resumes Field Trips as COVID-19 Cases Decline
Posted on 02/15/2022

SAN DIEGO – With active COVID-19 cases and positivity rates declining throughout San Diego County, the San Diego Unified School District is updating its outdoor masking policy and lifting restrictions on field trips. Indoor masking continues to be required for all students and staff on district property, including schools and central offices, regardless of vaccination status.

Effective February 16, students, staff, and others on San Diego Unified school grounds will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors. Field trips will be permitted to resume for both indoor and outdoor venues, with health and safety guidelines followed, under the updated guidance.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the district have decreased 56 percent since the omicron peak, while testing positivity rates among those without symptoms or close contact have fallen below one percent.

San Diego Unified is updating only its outdoor protocols as the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced this week it will keep its indoor mask mandate in place for schools through at least February 28, 2022. Updated guidance for the use of face masks from the CDPH allows the universal indoor masking requirement to expire, excluding K-12 schools, today, February 15.

San Diego Unified will reconvene its panel of scientific experts from UC San Diego to begin discussing what conditions would make it advisable to lift the district’s indoor mask policy for students and staff.

“Although we are making significant progress, now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19,” said Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne. “Through a robust commitment to masking and our vaccination policy, we have made San Diego Unified schools some of the safest places in the community with respect to the virus. We want to keep it that way as we continue navigating out of the pandemic and will adjust accordingly.”

For information on choosing an effective mask, the CDC offers masking tips for children. Updated mask guidance is also available for district employees. Masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit are required for staff and highly recommended for students.

Although the surge of omicron is waning, this highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 is still prevalent in our community. In the months ahead, other variants are anticipated to cause new resurgences.

COVID-19 safety continues to be the district’s top priority. In addition to consulting with the district’s pediatrician and Nursing and Wellness Department, San Diego Unified remains in regular communication with health professionals at UC San Diego, the county, and the state regarding the latest guidance on the use of masks indoors.

A “masking for all” school policy will only be relaxed when either serious health risks of COVID-19 disease are negligible and/or community case rates are such that contracting this virus in a school setting is extremely unlikely.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Murad, Communications Department, [email protected], (619) 925-4790.