The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the United States, will lift indoor mask requirements for students and staff next week in an agreement with its teachers’ union, the district announced Friday.
The new policy will take effect “no later than Wednesday,” and masking in classrooms will still be strongly recommended, the district said in its announcement. Los Angeles Unified had remained one of the last holdouts after California dropped its school mask mandate on March 11. Teachers in the city had insisted on higher vaccination rates among students before easing the requirement.
“I strongly support ending the indoor mask requirement and am committed to continuing to uphold our science-based approach to Covid-19 safety and protocols,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in the statement. “We know some in our school communities and offices will continue to wear masks, while others may not. Please consider your situation and do what is best for you or your child.”
Like other states, California has seen its coronavirus infection numbers drop rapidly in recent weeks as the Omicron wave subsides. As part of the agreement, the district will attempt to administer P.C.R. tests on all students and employees through the end of the school year.
A February poll found broad support in the state for continued coronavirus measures in schools, including vaccine mandates and mask requirements. Four out of 10 parents said they were not confident that their children could be kept safe from the virus in schools.
New York City’s school district, the nation’s largest, stopped requiring masks on March 7. Nationwide, 92 percent of schools have dropped mask mandates, according to Burbio, a data company that has been tracking school reopenings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to recommend masking in schools.