Photo By Ken Ogata

Unmasking after two years: indoor mandate to end on March 11

Due to Santa Clara County’s seven-day rolling average of 501 positive COVID-19 cases on Feb. 24, the indoor mask mandate set by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department expired a week later. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom then announced that the mask mandate for schools would be lifted after March 11 with PAUSD and Santa Clara County Public Health Director Sarah Cody both saying they will follow the governor’s lead and not require students or teachers to wear masks.

“While indoor masking in public spaces will no longer be required, it still makes sense to do,” Cody said. “Wearing a mask is part of working together to protect others, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

Cody said she was happy with the County’s case count of 327 and said it had reached sustained and encouraging numbers.

Newsom announced in a press release Feb. 28 that California, Washington and Oregon would shift to recommending masks, instead of requiring them, except for high transmission settings.

“After March 11, in schools and child care facilities, masks will not be required but will be strongly recommended,” Newsom said. “Masks will still be required for everyone in high transmission settings.”

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington gave similar announcements, saying they would move forward slowly and carefully. 

The seven-day rolling average of 501 positive cases is below the threshold of 550 new cases the county required to lift the indoor mask mandate.

Cody said in a press release she is confident it is safe to lift the indoor mask mandate now that this metric is met.

Assistant Librarian Deborah Henry said she agreed with the decision.

“I would say it’s about time for people that would like to shed their masks,” Henry said.

Junior Joshua Wilde, though, said he disagrees with the county’s preparation to lift the mandate.

“Once you lift the mask mandate, (cases are) going to go back up,” Wilde said. “It’s not very smart to do that.”

Wilde also isn’t planning to shed his mask indoors, though he is comfortable with going mask-free outdoors.

“I will still wear a mask in class,” Wilde said. “But outside of the class, I’ll be fine taking it off.”

Despite her excitement about the mandate lift, Henry said she will likely continue to wear a mask.

“I will continue wearing the mask a little longer,” Henry said. “But I think it would be fine for other people.”

Henry said the choice of wearing a mask should ultimately be up to the individual. 

“Some people wore masks before COVID-19,” Henry said. “I think it’s kind of a personal decision.”