LA teachers union says mask mandate should stay in place despite new county guidelines

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The Unified Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) is pushing for mask mandates in LA schools to continue despite the county’s decision to end school masking on March 12.

UTLA said in a Wednesday statement to FOX 11 LA that such protocols, “like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families.”

Third-grade students prepare to exit their classroom at Pacific Elementary School in Manhattan Beach on Oct. 21, 2021. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

Third-grade students prepare to exit their classroom at Pacific Elementary School in Manhattan Beach on Oct. 21, 2021. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

“It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools,” the union said, according to FOX 11.

LOS ANGELES STUDENTS MUST WEAR NON-FABRIC COVID MASKS AT ALL TIMES, INCLUDING SPORTS ACTIVITIES, DISTRICT SAYS

LA County is also lifting mask indoor requirements in other public spaces in line with California state guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently loosened mask guidance, prompting city and state officials to lift COVID-19 restrictions. 

The county’s positivity rate as of Wednesday was 1.2%. There were 80 people hospitalized.

Izzy Galvan, 20, wears a face mask while visiting the Griffith Observatory overlooking downtown Los Angeles on July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Izzy Galvan, 20, wears a face mask while visiting the Griffith Observatory overlooking downtown Los Angeles on July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“Masks are required indoors at schools and child care facilities until March 11 when masks will be strongly recommended for students, children, teachers and staff regardless of vaccination status,” the county said in a Wednesday press release, citing optimistic COVID-19 numbers. “School districts in LA County may continue to require masking at schools and during school activities, along with other appropriate safety protections for their school community.”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY EASES COVID-19 INDOOR MASK MANDATE

Students in LA were required to wear masks indoors once in-person classes resumed in the fall of 2021, longer than students in most other U.S. school districts since the COVID-19 pandemic initially surged throughout the country in March 2020.

Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jill Baker talks to first-graders at Roosevelt Elementary School in Long Beach on Aug. 31, 2021. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jill Baker talks to first-graders at Roosevelt Elementary School in Long Beach on Aug. 31, 2021. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District told Fox News Digital in a statement that it recognizes new health guidance from the state and LA County lifting indoor mask mandates by March 12. 

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“Los Angeles Unified continues to monitor positivity rates to inform COVID-19 safety protocols. We are encouraged by recent improvements to local health conditions, which underscore the effectiveness of the District’s robust vaccination and testing programs,” the spokesperson said. “We are committed to upholding our science-driven approach to COVID-19 protocols and will continue to consult with our medical director and health partners as we work to establish an updated mask policy.”

Other major metropolitan areas, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston, have similarly lifted mask mandates and proof of vaccination.

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