Parents, health professionals weigh in on upcoming changes to student mask mandate

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students will soon be able to go to school without masks.

Governor Gavin Newsom released new guidelines Monday saying, starting March 12th, masks will no longer be required in school, but will be strongly recommended.

Now, parents and health professionals are weighing in.

"We don't want the masks on our kids anymore and we're very excited for this change," said Lindsay Soares whose daughter, Tiffany, is in Pre-K in the Merced River School District.

RELATED: California to lift mask mandate in schools on March 12

It's an announcement she's been waiting for, but leaves her wondering, why did it take so long? And why is the state waiting two more weeks to drop the rule?

"I just didn't understand why that was such a huge requirement still when it was being lifted everywhere else," said Soares.

Officials with the Fresno County Department of Public Health say the extra time is because schools are high risk settings.

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While some parents say this is the start to normalcy for their children, health professionals suggest protecting yourself even more as mandates start to relax across the state.



"They are crowded and indoors and a lot of children are not fully vaccinated, and so, that's why the mask mandate continues in the schools until March 11th," said Fresno County Department of Public Health Medical Consultant Dr. John Zweifler.

Merced Union High School District has already announced it will adopt the state's guidelines starting March 12.

Clovis Unified School recently relaxed its enforcement policies and praised the governor's decision Monday, saying in part, "Our students can now fully engage in valuable classroom learning and social development regardless of vaccination status."

The Fresno Teacher's Association says it expects the district to follow the direction of the state and county and will support anyone who still wants to wear a mask.

"For those people that feel safer with it, then we hope that you continue to do so, if you have the choice of doing so whether you're a school employee or student, right, continue to do so," said Fresno Teacher's Association President Manuel Bonilla.

Dr. Nael Mhaissen is the Medical Director for Infectious Diseases at Valley Children's Healthcare.

He says there has been a decline in COVID-19 cases in children over the last few weeks, but reminds people, just because masks aren't required, they are still strongly recommended.

He says before ditching your mask, everyone should assess their own health risk.

"I think the public, everyone, should strive to increase their level of protection against Covid, and one of the available tools we have for that is immunization," said Dr. Mhaissen.

Each county and school district has the option to impose stronger guidelines than the state's.

Merced County Public Health Department announced Monday evening it will follow the state's guidelines.

Fresno County Health Department has not officially adopted the new guidelines, but officials say they expect the department will, as it has in the past.
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