Covid-19 live: New York City to end vaccination mandate for athletes
Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District were allowed to attend class without masks for the first time in more than a year on Wednesday, after staff and administrators at the second-largest US school district reached a long-term agreement date on the matter last week. .
Masks are still strongly encouraged in classrooms, and students and staff will continue to be tested for coronavirus weekly through the end of the school year, according to the agreement. But the lifting of one of the last major school district mask mandates in the country was another signal that leaders are trying to bring Americans back to some sense of normalcy.
“Now that this important issue is behind us, it is time to focus on the full academic potential of each student,” new district superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement.
California schools have been closed longer than in many other states – something Governor Gavin Newsom and other state leaders have credited with saving lives, but which has frustrated some parents and helped fuel an effort unsuccessful in ousting the governor from office last year.
Throughout the pandemic, public schools in Los Angeles have operated under particularly strict safety protocols negotiated by the district’s large and powerful teachers’ union.
Yet as case numbers dwindled and restrictions were quickly lifted in the United States, officials in California and Los Angeles have rolled back theirs in recent weeks. A statewide school mask mandate was lifted on March 11, although individual districts can choose to keep their rules in place longer. In San Francisco, masks will no longer be required in all schools starting April 2.
On a sweltering Wednesday in the Los Angeles District, which covers more than 700 square miles, students, parents and educators said normal now includes masks — but not all the time, and not on everyone.
“I’ll probably plan to keep mine as long as it’s highly recommended indoors,” said Jennifer McAfee, an eighth-grade English teacher at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes. “As an educator, I feel like I got used to it, and in terms of being able to read facial expressions, I had to get better at looking at people’s eyes.”
Ms McAfee, who chatted during her brief lunch break, said all but one of her students so far that day had been masked.
Veronica Sasso, principal of Franklin Avenue Elementary School in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, smiled as she led the way through the halls just before the dismissal.
“It’s good to start slowly but surely to establish post-pandemic routines,” she said.
For now, she says, she enjoys seeing the children’s “brilliant smiles”.
Shanna Vasquez had a lime green KN95-style mask on her wrist as she stood on the lawn outside the nearly century-old school watching her 6-year-old daughter Stella go back and forth with her classmates. class – some still wearing masks, some not. The mask was Stella’s.
“I forgot mine – I stopped wearing it this week,” Ms Vasquez said.
She said her family has been cautious throughout the pandemic, wearing masks and mostly staying home, but now that conditions are safer they are ready to “get back to normal” – or at least find a way to live with the virus. Although Ms Vasquez said she would still likely bring a mask to the mall or other potentially crowded indoor spaces, she wishes her newborn son could recognize his face, as he has not seen him with a mask. She wants Stella to be able to play comfortably in the heat.
“Did you take off your mask in class? she asked Stella, who paused in her acting. Stella nodded.
“I don’t like a mask,” the girl said.