Indoor mask mandate for schools must continue

Opinion columns reflect the view of the staff writer. 

California has been on top of the COVID-19 pandemic since it first took effect on the world in March of 2020. From San Francisco being one of the first cities in the United States to fully shut down, to high vaccination rates throughout the Bay Area, there has been a dedication locally to slow the pandemic. After all, the Bay Area has some of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with Contra Costa Co. boasting a vaccination rate greater than 80 percent. 

Unfortunately, this is not currently being reflected as Gov. Gavin Newsom is being too lenient in lifting indoor mask mandates.

Lifting the mask mandate at this time is a terrible idea. Cases have dropped and we are moving in the right direction. But we are repeating the exact same mistake that was made when the last mask mandate was lifted. If history repeats itself, cases are going to rise once again.

Back in June of 2021, Gov. Newsom announced that California will open up, and lift the general indoor mask mandate. At this time, the vaccine was available to everyone 12 and up, and cases were dipping. Everyone started to relax at this time and thought it was the perfect opportunity to lift the mandate.

After this mandate was lifted, cases immediately quadrupled by July, moving from an average of about 50 new cases a day to almost 200. We were on a great path at this time and the removal of the mandate set us back very quickly. Gov. Newsom is aware of these facts but has recognized the backlash which came from anti-maskers and allowed this to overtake his decision. 

From a clear conclusion that masks are needed to slow the rates of COVID, the mandate was reinstated Dec 13. At this time in California, the case rates were increasing rapidly, everyday by the hundreds.

Newsom announced on Feb 15 all indoor public stores and other buildings will no longer be requiring masks.This applies to both employees and customers. 

After this announcement, places such as the Stoneridge Mall, the City Center, Target, and other popular stores have opened up and stopped enforcing masks completely. Many customers, of course, are still wearing them responsibly, but these numbers have decreased tremendously. 

On Feb 27, Gov. Newsom announced that California schools will also have the choice to require masks or not, starting March 14. 

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District announced on Feb. 28 that K-12 schools will no longer be enforcing a mask mandate starting Monday.

It is very important to recognize that although it is not mandated, it is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue wearing masks. 

When the CDC highly recommends something that was recently strictly mandated, it should be taken seriously. Masks have protected us since the pandemic first took effect on the world, and it should not stop until the majority of students feel safe in classrooms without one.