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UPDATE: San Francisco Unified Announces Lifting Of Mask Mandate On Campuses

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The San Francisco Unified School District on Friday announced plans to ease the requirement to wear masks on campus over the next several weeks.

As part of an agreement between the district and its unions, the masking policy at middle and high schools will shift from required to "strongly recommended" March 12. Meanwhile, the requirement will be dropped at remaining sites, including elementary schools on April 2, as students return from Spring Break.

"We are starting with middle and high schools, where there are higher vaccination rates, in order to give more time for families of younger students to get their children vaccinated," Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said in a statement.

"We recognize changes in masking and contact tracing practices will be a transition for our community. Throughout this pandemic we have had to constantly change but I trust we are moving in the right direction when we follow the science," Matthews went on to say.

Cassondra Curiel, president of the United Educators of San Francisco said, "Together we organized and won quality masks, regular testing, ventilation, and COVID sick days. And with all of those multilayers of mitigation outlined in our ongoing health and safety agreement still in place, we support an ease in the mask mandate that still provides time for our youngest students to get vaccinated."

Earlier this week, California health officials announced that face coverings would no longer be required on school campuses on March 12, but counties and school districts continued to have the right to implement stricter requirements.

Soon after the state's announcement, SFUSD said "no changes" were going into effect as the state lifted its mandate, despite announcements by Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Department of Public Health that they would align with the state's new guidance.

SFUSD officials on Friday also announced that group contract tracing would go into effect later this month, allowing students who are close contacts to stay in school and test unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

The district also announced that COVID-19 test kits would be distributed to all SFUSD students and staff ahead of Spring Break, scheduled for the last week of March, with the expectation that all would test before classes resume in the first full week of April.

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