Return to normalcy? Mask mandates lifted

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Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) announced that it will follow California’s guidelines to lift the indoor mask mandate effective in schools on Monday, March 14.

The announcement came after Gov. Gavin Newsom cited decreasing coronavirus cases and declining hospitalizations. While masks will no longer be a requirement, Newsom still strongly recommends masks for individuals in indoor settings.

“California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement on Feb. 28. “Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward.”

The mask mandate has prompted support from some teachers who are ready to return back to normal.

“We’ve been wearing masks for two years now and a lot of people are ready to be done with it, especially people that are vaccinated,” science department chair Tim Jacobs said. “I think at some point, we have to return life to normal. Being able to see your students’ faces and your teachers’ faces is a huge part of that interaction that is needed in education.”

Other students display hesitancy and fear for possible outbreaks if masks are no longer required.

“We are at the last leg of the pandemic and being too impulsive by lifting mask mandates right now could potentially spark a new variant,” sophomore Sreenidhi Srinivasan said. “I would continue to wear my mask indoors until I am sure that cases aren’t spreading among people or aren’t hospitalizing people…Lifting mandates now could prove to obstruct this steady progress.”

California made the announcement alongside Oregon and Washington who will also remove mask mandates in school by March 12.