A South Bay school district may be the last in the state to require its students to wear masks in school.
San Jose’s Alum Rock School District will no longer require masks inside classrooms when school resumes after next week’s winter break.
The district says the extra precaution has paid off but it reserves the right to pivot if the COVID infection numbers start heading in the other direction again.
“I’m very grateful and very proud of what we have been able to do by holding out and wearing masks until the very last moment,” said superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer.
California’s COVID state of emergency is set to expire at the end of the month so Alum Rock says it had no choice but to wait until then to lift the mask requirement.
The district covers an area in the state that had among the highest COVID contagion rates and lowest vaccination rates.
It was a crisis within a crisis at Alum Rock. But in the end, perhaps partially because of the mandate, no teacher or no student died from COVID.
“I think we were able to weather the storm because we were very firm about that,” said Bauer.
Not everyone supported the extended mask mandate in Alum Rock, but the district says a majority were supportive and understood the danger in their community.
Some parents said they’d support keeping the mask rules, including Elizabeth Mendez who even wears a mask outdoors.
“I prefer them to wear them,” she said.
Parent Mariana Hernandez said her children will continue to wear masks as well, insisting that COVID is not gone for good, and she’s not willing to take that chance.
For many children, this will be a big change. In fact, all second graders and many third graders in Alum Rock don’t know what it’s like to be in class without a mask.
“The wonderful thing about children is they will be able to adapt to anything,” said Bauer.
Alum Rock says the fight against the virus is not over, but they’ve won enough victories against the virus to finally make masks optional.
Source: NBC Bay Area
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