School mask mandates come to an end


VHS Principal Marissa Cervantes said, “Ventura High School will follow the District’s communications and guidelines on this matter. Masks will be strongly recommended but not required indoors on our campus beginning March 14. As always masks will be available to anyone who would like one. Mask are provided in classrooms, office and health office.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Masks will no longer be required at Ventura High School

Beginning March 14, 2022, both students and staff will no longer be required to wear face masks, however, they are still to be strongly recommended. In a Ventura Unified School District email via ParentSquare, Superintendent Roger Rice said, “In our message last night, we promised an update about employee mask mandates when we received them. Today Governor Newsom announced that just like students, the State’s requirement for staff masking in schools will expire on Friday, March 11, allowing staff and students, regardless of vaccination status, to be without a facemask at all school and District sites beginning Monday, March 14.”

Ventura High School Principal Marissa Cervantes said, “According to our VUSD Communications Director, Marieanne Quiroz, as of March 14, masks will be strongly recommended but are no longer required on our school sites.”

Teachers will not be allowed to enforce mask-wearing in their classrooms. Cervantes said, “Unless there is a state mandate indicating otherwise, which as of now there is not, teachers cannot enforce a stricter code than what the District is following.”

This announcement clears uncertainty from the state’s suspension of indoor mask mandates for vaccinated Californians in public places, which happened on Feb. 16, 2022. Following this development, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly suggested a two-week time frame until the status of school mask-mandates could be determined by analyzing COVID-19 data. That two-week time frame ended on Feb. 28, leading to the announcement that masks would no longer be required in Calif. K-12 public schools.

Senior Reid Lane expressed his opinion about lifting the mask mandate in schools. He said, “Personally, I just want to be able to look at the numbers. I want to be able to see if the cases are going up or down. If they are going down continuously then I don’t think it is necessary [to wear a mask]. If they are going up and if other countries and states have shown that taking off the mask is not working then I will continue to wear it.” He continued with what he believes may be the eventual repercussions, “I can see unvaccinated people, once again becoming breeding ground for new strains [of COVID-19]. Unvaccinated people getting sick, immunocompromised people getting sick, cases spiking. However, I just hope that it has been long enough that we were able to gain herd immunity and that we are finally past this.”

Sophomore Leslie Castro said, “I will continue to wear my mask because COVID-19 is still a thing and you don’t know if the students or staff are vaccinated.” Photo taken from ParentSquare

Sophomore Leslie Castro said, “I heard about the mask mandates ending at school recently but everywhere else I had heard about it a few weeks ago. I think it’s still too early for the mandates to end.”

VHS Biology teacher Rob Lewis, said, “I think that with the mask mandate being lifted for the general public I think that it is probably time that the mask mandate in schools be cohesive with the regular public’s rules. I think it’s time.”

VHS Special Education Dept. Chair Steve Strong is against mask mandates. Strong said, “I don’t think it [mask mandates] follows the science… It’s too bad that it’s become a political thing.” 

According to the CDC, Ventura County is at a low COVID-19 community level as of March 3. A “low” CDC community level is defined as an area having fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The CDC still recommends the use of face masks for protection against COVID-19. 

Rice said, “Anyone who chooses to wear a mask is encouraged to do so, and we will continue making masks available to all students, staff, and visitors. We will not tolerate any bullying regarding the issue of masking. If a student is bullied, they should report this to their school administration.”