SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Even with new COVID cases dropping sharply, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said Monday that officials are still not comfortable enough to end to the state’s universal mandate requiring masks in the classroom.
Speaking to reporters, Ghaly said his department would reassess the situation in two weeks. If conditions continue to improve, the warrant will likely be lifted.
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“It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” he said. “We don’t make hasty decisions. Together we will collect information to make a decision that is good for California. »
The delay risks triggering a new avalanche of criticism from parents who have demanded an end to the wearing of masks in class. But the latest CDC guidance still recommends indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
In California, less than 33% of children ages 5 to 11 are fully immunized. Vaccination rates are highest in the Bay Area, with San Francisco at 50% and Marin County at 70%.
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“If we’re still seeing a lot of COVID cases in the community, it may make sense to link it to vaccinations,” UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told KPIX last week.
Dr Chin-Hong believes lifting the school’s mandate now with current case rates will lead to increased transmission and student absences.
“We want the children to stay in their place for as long as possible and not be disturbed in class,” he said. “So as long as there is a bit of virus circulating, wearing a mask for some children is a good idea.”
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By Wednesday, vaccinated people in all Bay Area counties except Santa Clara will be able to ditch their masks in most indoor social settings. The change covers office workers, gym members and other “stable cohorts” of people.