AUSD’s Mask Protocol Moves from Mandated to Strongly Recommended

AUSD’s Mask Protocol Moves from Mandated to Strongly Recommended

Move aligns AUSD’s policy with state and county guidelines

At its March 8 public meeting, the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education voted 5-0 to change the district’s COVID-19 masking protocol from “mandatory” to “strongly recommended.”

The change, which took effect at the end of the day on March 11, aligns with new K-12 guidance from both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD). California officials announced on Feb. 28, all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer be required to wear a mask indoors at schools and childcare facilities starting March 12.

ACPHD’s notified the public that the agency is lifting its indoor mask mandate due to declining case rates and hospitalizations.
“When there are fewer cases, there is less virus circulating, making it safer to adopt changes to the strictest COVID restrictions,” wrote ACPHD in their March 3 press release.

While public health metrics point to declining case rates, public health officials and AUSD are aware that if another COVID-19 surge occurs, masking may need to become mandatory again. Such a decision would be made based on a number of local factors and in consultation with public health authorities. AUSD will continue to monitor and share case rate data regularly so that community members can keep track of case numbers. The district’s COVID-19 Dashboard provides up-to-date information on the number of cases at each site.

The move from “mandatory” masking to “strongly recommended” masking does not signal an end to other COVID-19 protocols.

“This is just one area in which we are relaxing a COVID protocol,” AUSD Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi wrote in a letter to AUSD staff on March 8. “Our many other layers of safety — such as improved ventilation, restricting who can be on campus, testing, providing modified quarantines in classrooms with positive cases, and supporting vaccinations — will stay in place.”

In addition, students who test positive for COVID-19 and those who are exposed to a positive case outside school will still need to isolate for five days before testing to return. Even if they return after five days, they will be strongly encouraged to mask for a full 10 days, as recommended by public health officials.

Alameda County was the last Bay Area county to announce its alignment with California’s new masking protocols. Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Santa Clara announced they would change protocols on March 2. Alameda County waited until the next day.

County health departments, individual districts and individual schools within those counties can still choose to keep masks in place after March 11. San Francisco Unified and South San Francisco Unified school districts have decided to continue requiring masks for the foreseeable future, according to reports. After the county adopted the state’s new masking protocols, AUSD held its vote to change the masking protocols.

More information on AUSD’s change in protocols is available on AUSD’s Masking FAQ for Families web page. Visit www.alamedausd-ca.schoolloop.com/parentresources, for more information.