SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – While the indoor mask mandate will drop in almost all Bay Area counties, masks will still be required for school children.
Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce new guidance for schools in the near future.
“There’s 1,050 school districts in California, 10,500 plus schools, everyone has strong opinions, local boards, superintendents, county,” Gov. Newsom said.
At a press conference Wednesday, Governor Newsom announced masks are still required at schools due to low vaccinations – About 28 percent in 5 to 11-year-olds received the COVID vaccine compared to over 92% of those 18 and up, who have received at least one dose of the shot.
“That’s substantially smaller percentage in our 5 to 11-year-olds,” Newsom said.
Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious diseases physician at Stanford, suggests parents communicate with a trusted physician.
“Certain age groups are not yet eligible for vaccinations and for others I think parents are sort of weighing the risk benefits, they want to see the vaccines are safe so it will take time for people to adopt and uptake,” Dr. Karan said.
Dr. Karan adds mask-wearing is necessary for schools.
“Kids that are not infected will have more protection, kids that are infected and don’t know it may not be showing symptoms will be less likely to transmit to those around them,” Dr. Karan said.
Dr. Jeanne Noble, the director of COVID response for UCSF’s Emergency Department, has a different opinion.
“It’s really hard after 18 months of school closures and our kids have really been suffering from a mental health crisis. We need to get them back to normal, get them socializing and expressing themselves just as they were in 2019 and masks get in the way of that,” Dr. Noble said.
Dr. Noble points out kids are the lowest risk group in terms of serious illness or death.
“Kids and unvaccinated children has a flu-like level risk from COVID so we have never masked kids from flu season in the past, that’s just a level of risk that we live with and accept. That is true for the unvaccinated child. For the vaccinated child, their risk from covid is much, much lower than it is from influenza and the flu,” Dr. Noble said.
In the meantime, the Newsom administration is working with education partners about masking in schools.
“Try to address their concerns as it relates to community spread and what they anticipate experiencing once those mask requirements are removed,” Newsom said.
Newsom says health officials will outline their revised recommendation on school mask-wearing in the coming days.