The Sacramento City Unified School District will require masks indoors starting Monday for all students and staff after the county was placed in the highest COVID-19 risk level by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
"This decision was made with careful consideration of the current data trends and is intended to limit the spread of Covid-19 in schools and the community," the district wrote in an update to parents Thursday evening. "At this point, it is unclear how long the mask mandate will remain in place."
While masks won't be required Friday, SCUSD officials "strongly encourage" students to wear masks Friday. The district says it will continue to provide face masks for anyone who needs one, and that approved face masks must follow California Department of Public Health guidance. CDPH recommends doubling up with a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask if respirators (KN95, KF94, N95) are unavailable.
Sacramento City Unified continues to operate three COVID-19 testing centers every weekday for students, district staff and district families.
The county also continues to operate several other testing sites, which do not require health insurance and are available to access regardless of citizenship status.
The change comes only 45 days since the district originally dropped its indoor mask requirement on April 18, one of the last California districts to do so. California dropped its state school mask mandate for K-12 students on March 12.
At the time, SCUSD officials said they would consider masks again once Sacramento County reached the CDC's medium tier. Per its updated masking policy, decided on March 8, the district would automatically return to requiring indoor masking after the county entered the "high" level, which happened Thursday afternoon.
The district has seen steadily rising cases in the past month, many tied to events and gatherings. Over the course of May, the district reported 1,084 student cases, out of 1,327 total. That tops the number of cases reported in February: 1,055 student cases of 1,214 district cases.
The only month this year in which the district reported a higher number of COVID-19 cases was January, during the height of the initial omicron surge.
As of June 1, according to the district’s dashboard, there are 378 active COVID-19 cases.
"We understand this return to universal indoor masking may be a challenging transition," the district wrote Thursday. "However, with the full cooperation of families, students and staff, we are confident our schools and end of the year events will remain open and safe for all."
Sacramento was one of 13 California counties moved into the CDC's "high" community level Thursday as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the region. The measurement tracks the impact of COVID-19 on a community, and is based on a combination of case rates, hospitalization rates and the percentage of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients.
Over the past week, Sacramento County recorded 283 new COVID-19 cases and 12.1 COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people. The upper limit to stay in the CDC's low tier is 200 cases and 10 hospitalizations.
The other California counties in the high tier are Del Norte, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.
At the high community level, the CDC recommends all people wear masks indoors in public places and on public transportation, stay up to date on vaccinations (including booster shots if you are eligible), and get tested if they have symptoms.
Sacramento County health officials have not yet responded to questions about if they will change any COVID-19 policies. Alameda County announced Thursday morning it would require masks indoors in most public spaces.
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