LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Beginning Monday, all students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be required to wear surgical-grade masks.
Over the weekend, the district announced that cloth masks will no longer be allowed on campuses. All students will be required to wear surgical-grade masks, both indoors and outdoors while on campus.
They must be "well-fitting, non-cloth masks with a nose wire," LAUSD wrote in a statement on its website.
The district noted that it will "provide these kinds of masks to students and employees at school sites if they need them."
All LAUSD students were required to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to class for the start of the spring semester earlier this month with COVID-19 cases surging due to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
Just prior to the return to class on Jan. 10, the district reported a staggering COVID-19 testing positivity rate of 15% among its students and 13% among staff. It lead to tens of thousands of LAUSD students missing the first days of classes after the winter break.
There are approximately 600,000 students and 75,000 staff in LAUSD, the second largest district in the nation. Last week, incoming LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told reporters that "COVID-19 is here to stay."
"We've gotten great feedback from our principals and our parents for actually increasing our safety measures during this surge," said Dr. Smita Malhotra Monday, the LAUSD Medical Director.
Malhotra said LAUSD's positivity rate during the surge has been lower than L.A. County's as a whole.
"[The lower positivity rate] is precisely because of all our mitigation measures, these same measures that we've had since the beginning of this pandemic," Malhotra said. "L.A. Unified has led with some of the highest safety measures in the nation. [Those measures include] our required masking, both indoors and outdoors, our weekly testing of all of our students and staff regardless of vaccination status, and our very high vaccination rates. All of our staff are 100 percent vaccinated. Students ages 12 and older [are] 90 percent vaccinated."
Weekly COVID-19 testing for students and employees regardless of vaccination status was previously going to be required through the end of January, then required only of unvaccinated people. But it will now continue for everyone through February.
Vaccinations will be required for all LAUSD students age 12 and older at the start of the fall semester of 2022.
"What we do know throughout this pandemic is vaccinations continue to be one of the greatest defenses against the virus," Malhotra said.
Meanwhile, students in the Culver City Unified School District are returning to classes Monday after getting a week off due to the Omicron surge which lead to hundreds of infections district-wide.
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