By Kathy Chouteau
West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst announced in a district communication this morning that, as of today, the district will no longer require students and employees to wear masks outdoors.
As part of the district’s updated requirements, masks will not be required for students outside during the lunch period, however, they will still be required for both students and employees indoors and when passing periods, which the superintendent defined as “not considered outdoors.”
The WCCUSD’s updated masking requirements come on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement this week that the state’s mask mandate for schools will be lifted on March 12. The state, however, will strongly recommended masks in school and childcare settings, and local districts will still be able to mandate masks if they choose, according to the governor’s office. The governor cited “declining case rates and hospitalizations across the West” as the reasons California was joining Oregon and Washington in updating mask requirements.
The superintendent noted that, while COVID-19 case rates are declining in Contra Costa County, “the transmission rate still remains high for some of the areas where our schools operate.” As such, he believes it is the right decision “to move cautiously” at this time.
He added that the district will continue to monitor how its schools adapt to the new guidance and “will make adjustments as transmission rates change or state guidelines are adjusted.”