"No one should make assumptions regarding someone's beliefs or health status based upon their choice to wear or not wear a mask, nor should they comment on them," Superintendent Steve Frank said.
The MPCSD's Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Tuesday, March 8, to lift the district's indoor mask mandate next week.
The Woodside and Menlo Park City districts join the neighboring Portola Valley School District, which opted earlier last week to drop its mask mandate on March 14.
The Sequoia Union High, Ravenswood City and Las Lomitas school districts were still mulling whether they'll follow the state guidance as of The Almanac's Wednesday press deadline.
Superintendent credits masks with preventing COVID's spread
The roughly 365-student Woodside district has seen 89 COVID-19 cases among students and staff since the beginning of this school year. There was just one case reported to the school last week.
Frank noted that with the help of a robust contact tracing program, it was firmly determined that all but two cases were acquired outside of school.
"The remaining two cases remain uncertain," he said. "The point of sharing this data is to clearly show the effectiveness of mask-wearing in combating the spread of COVID in schools."
According to research cited by the state health department, the masking requirement in California schools has allowed them to keep schools open when compared to other parts of the country.
California accounts for roughly 12% of all U.S. students but accounted for only 1% of COVID-19 related school closures during the omicron surge. Nationally during the delta surge in July and August 2021, jurisdictions without mask requirements in schools experienced larger increases in pediatric case rates, and school outbreaks were 3.5 times more likely there.
"The change in masking guidance reflects CDPH (California Department of Public Health)'s approach to rolling back safety measures now that COVID-19 conditions have improved across the state," he said. "According to CDPH, these decisions are based on science and data, including case and hospitalization rates. As conditions continue to improve, CDPH will move to less restrictive guidance. If the state experiences another spike, then CDPH could pivot back to requiring masks in schools and elsewhere."
In San Mateo County, cases have fallen 54% over the last two weeks, with an average of 104 cases per day as of Tuesday, March 8, according to county data. Hospitalizations were also down 28% over the last two weeks. The county has roughly 760,000 residents.
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