LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District took another small step toward the end of the pandemic Tuesday with outdoor mask requirements officially dropped at all of the district's campuses.
Wearing a mask is now optional for students and teachers who are not inside. However, indoor masking is still required.
"It was getting annoying having my mask on all the time, so it feels good like that," said Manuel Solis, one of the students who spoke with CBS reporters Tuesday.
Some parents were just as excited with the change as students were, including Laurel House.
"We are fully vaccinated, but I want my kid to be able to run around outside and breathe fresh air," she said.
Mask mandates are falling across the country along with COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. California's mask mandate officially expired on Feb. 15, and Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health followed suit for its mega events, schools, and child care centers.
Despite the amendment to the guidelines that the district had been following since the beginning of the pandemic, many children could still be seen wearing their masks outdoors.
"I think everyone got used to the masks," said Andrez Mendoza, another LAUSD student. "During PE, which I just had, the teacher said we could remove our masks, and no one did."
He wasn't the only one who noticed that things hadn't changed as quickly as many presumed they would.
"Pretty much everyone had their mask on," said Jenna Schwartz, a parent who also doubles as a substitute teacher. "I assume it's new and they're figuring it out."
Another mother wasn't exactly convinced that the change would be beneficial. "They are little kids. They don't wash their hands, they aren't clean like adults are," she said. "So I would like them to keep it on no matter what."
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced the district's revised guidelines late Friday, after district officials came under fire for initially opting to keep the outdoor masking rule in place through the end of the week. Carvalho said the district wanted to take a few days to transition to the new rule and let their labor partners, parents, and staff know about the rule change.
Carvalho mentioned in a tweet Tuesday morning that the rule is still subject to change as the district continues to "follow the expert advice of public health and medical experts."
However, the steady expiration of mask mandates doesn't seem to be happening fast enough for parents at other school districts. Parents say they plan to gather outside Yorba Linda Middle School Tuesday morning to protest school mask mandates, which they call a violation of their constitutional rights and child abuse. If LAUSD parents were to follow suit and look for complete removal of the mask mandate, they would need to seek union approval to lift the guidelines in place.
As the masks come off, at least for now, it's worth noting that Los Angeles Unified School District remains one of the strictest school districts in the nation, with mandatory weekly testing and a vaccination mandate set to go into effect beginning in August.
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