Students in California won’t have to wear masks in school starting March 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday in a joint statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
California will also no longer require masks indoors for unvaccinated individuals starting March 1, though masks will still be “strongly recommended” in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status, including schools.
Local jurisdictions can still choose to implement more stringent rules, which Santa Clara County has historically done. In fact, the county is yet to formally drop the universal indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals in contrast to the state health department and neighboring counties — though county officials said last week that they expect to drop the requirement on March 2.
The state will still require masks in public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.
“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 press release. “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.”
73.8% of residents statewide are fully vaccinated, with that figure climbing to 84.8% in Santa Clara County. Case counts have continued to plummet back to October and November 2021 levels after January’s Omicron surge, with the caveat that hospitalizations and deaths typically lag behind declining case counts.