State to Reassess Mask Requirements for Schools on February 28

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Yesterday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) held a news conference which addressed the masking requirements in schools.  According to Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state will spend the next two weeks evaluating COVID-19 data and on February 28 will reassess conditions for a future change to the statewide school masking mandate. At that time, CDPH may announce a date for easing the mask mandate in schools. 


As of today, there is no change to the CDPH school masking requirement and masks are still required to be worn indoors while on school campuses.  All school districts are required to abide by the mask mandate put in place by CDPH and do not have the decision-making authority to act otherwise. Dr. Ghaly reiterated today in the press conference that the CDPH requirements apply to all schools and districts in the state. Additionally, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau, reinforced this message in a press release dated February 10 stating “schools must continue to follow universal masking directives.”


On Friday we sent a ParentSquare message which communicated Governor Newsom’s announcement that universal masking will no longer be required for indoor public places for vaccinated individuals beginning February 16 due to the significant decline in Omicron cases. It’s important to note that this change does not apply to school settings which fall under CDPH school-specific guidelines.


We recognize this news may be frustrating to those who were expecting the CDPH to announce a definitive timeline for when the state will permit the easing of indoor school masking requirements.  On Friday, the Orange County Department of Education issued a joint letter from a coalition of Orange County superintendents asking CDPH to announce a criteria and timeline for easing school masking requirements and other protocols.  This is in alignment with a letter that OCHCA Director Dr. Chau had sent on 2/11, which proposed using hospitalization rates and ICU capacities as the basis for making mask decisions impacting schools. CDPH has indicated that, prior to their February 28 announcement, it will analyze case rates, positivity percentages, hospitalizations, and vaccine rates to determine the path forward.


As always, we will keep you updated regarding the February 28th school masking announcement from CDPH. In the interim, we will continue to abide by health and safety protocols including masking, frequent handwashing, case tracking, and symptom monitoring as we all do our part to keep our schools safe so that students can benefit from in-person instruction.