What happened to mask mandates?


Sophomore Angelica Matehuala said, “I personally would not feel too comfortable in a classroom that’s unmasked. There are already people who don’t wear them [masks] properly and even that makes me feel a little uneasy.” Graphic by: Alejandro Hernandez

Alejandro Hernandez

The statewide mask mandate has been lifted for vaccinated Californians, but what does this mean for VHS?

On Feb. 16, the state of California ended indoor mask mandates for vaccinated people. This posed a question for schools in the state, including Ventura High School. Would the mask mandate be lifted on campus as well?

Sophomore Liliana Lopez said, “Although mask mandates are lifting and changing, I will continue to wear my mask for my own safety. I have faith that the CDC will make the best decision for the environment of schools and working places. I don’t think we are ready to lift the mask mandate.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

In a Feb. 15 email from Ventura Unified School District superintendent Roger Rice said, “Beginning Wed. Feb. 16, vaccinated Californians will no longer be required to wear masks in public places; however, the mask mandate will continue to remain in effect for K-12 schools for at least two more weeks. This includes all VUSD indoor facilities, including gyms, District offices, etc. Yesterday, the state set Feb. 28 as the date to consider lifting the mask requirement at schools. Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, announced that additional time is needed to evaluate the latest data about the spread of COVID-19. In addition, it is important to remember we are not just a school but also a workplace. As a workplace, we will also need to continue to follow the COVID-19 prevention standards set by CalOSHA. We will continue to monitor these standards and let you know how that will impact mask mandates.”

Indoor mask mandates were first introduced in Calif. in June 2020. Sophomore Angelica Matehuala said, “I do not think the mask mandate should be lifted. COVID-19 is already really bad now, and it’ll only continue to get worse if the mandate is gone. People need to know that being vaccinated does not equal immunity.”

Dr. César Morales of the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools said, “With COVID-19 case numbers declining and the fact that schools are among the safest places in our community, I believe the mask mandate should be lifted at schools at the same time it is for the rest of the state. Even after masks become optional, anyone who wants to continue using them should feel comfortable doing so. I’m confident schools will remain safe environments for students and staff by adhering to required safety protocols. Families have an important role to play as well by keeping kids home whenever they have symptoms.”

Ventura High School classrooms have spare masks in case a student is without one. Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Ventura High School plans to respect the district/state’s decision on mask mandates at school. VHS principal Marissa Cervantes said, “As Principal of VHS, I will continue to work closely with our district to ensure the safety of all students under the guidance of our county guidelines at the school site. The mask mandate is up for discussion at the state level for schools on Feb. 28. As decisions are made we will transition appropriately.”

Vaccinated staff are no longer required to wear masks indoors as of Feb. 16, that is as long as all students have left for the day.

Rice said, “We want to remind our community that local school districts do not have the authority to lift school mask mandates before the state decides to do so. However, Feb. 28 is right around the corner, and we hope to have some clear direction on how we will be moving forward then.”