Los Angeles school students must now wear non-fabric masks at all times on campus, both indoors and outdoors, as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Effective Monday, students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) must wear “well-fitting, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” only, including during sports.
The district announced the new policy in a letter to families, noting that employees will be required to wear surgical grade masks or higher.
“Our in-school [coronavirus infection] rates have dropped but we are continuing to be diligent and agile in creating the safest learning environment,” district spokesperson Shannon Haber told the Los Angeles Times.
The updated policy comes after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) released guidance (pdf) noting that medical masks should be worn to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 as they are more effective in doing so.
“PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR CUSTOMERS FROM OMICRON Upgrade Your Mask!” the guidance is titled.
“The COVID-19 Omicron variant is very contagious! Starting January 17, 2022, all employers must provide well-fitting medical masks or respirators to employees who work indoors and in close contact with other workers and/or customers. This is to provide additional protection from COVID-19 infection,” the guidance states.
It states that N95, KN95, and KF94 masks offer the greatest protection, while double masking, or wearing a surgical mask together with a cloth mask, ranks second. A non-fitted or fitted surgical mask also offers better protection than cloth masks, the guidance notes.
A spokesperson for LAUSD told Fox News that the district will adhere to the latest guidance from health department.
“This guidance ensures that our schools are safe as possible for students and employees,” the spokesperson said. “We monitor school conditions daily.”
The district said it will provide students and employees with masks at no cost if needed. Some exceptions to mask rules are allowed for students who have a disability, medical, or certain mental health conditions.
The second-largest school system in the United States will also require students and employees to take COVID-19 tests weekly, regardless of vaccination status. A negative test result is required to enter campus.
“While we are starting to see small decreases in case numbers, thousands of students and staff test positive every day at schools across the country,” LACDPH told several news outlets in a statement. “Well-fitting and high-quality masks add an important layer of protection.”