Dear Hart District Families:
This email is intended to help clarify recent news from State and County health professionals. Both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) have provided updates on indoor and outdoor masking requirements.
As you are likely already aware, California will end its indoor masking requirement on Wednesday, February 16, for vaccinated individuals in indoor venues such as restaurants, businesses, etc. According to the State’s new guidance, unvaccinated individuals are supposed to continue wearing their masks indoors. This change in State policy does not yet apply to schools. K-12 Districts must continue to mask indoors for the time being.
The County has the authority to be more restrictive than the State. The LACDPH and Director Barbara Ferrer have chosen a more restrictive path for restaurants, businesses, etc. Dr. Ferrer has stated that LA will not remove its indoor mask requirement for at least a couple more weeks. To repeat, the County’s decision here does not apply to schools. Both the State and the County require that masks must continue to be worn indoors while at school or in District facilities.
The CDPH has left the indoor masking requirement for schools in place for the time being. In a news conference yesterday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the State’s top health official, said that the indoor masking requirement for schools will be revaluated on February 28. At that time, CDPH promised a new timeline for when indoor masking at schools will move from a requirement to a recommendation. Whenever this occurs, the County will then have to determine whether LACDPH will choose to align – or choose to be more restrictive – than the State of California.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer from the LACDPH told the County Board of Supervisors today that the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16. Hart District students will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors starting tomorrow morning. We are currently asking for clarification on how this impacts youth sports protocols.
I recognize that there are strong opinions within our community about these public health orders and their related requirements. The images of public officials, celebrities, and fans at the football games held in Los Angeles County the last two weeks have contributed to some of the very strong emotions people are feeling about this topic. Those of us charged with implementing public health protocols share your frustration over the apparent lack of consistency in the application of the rules. Nevertheless, as a public-school district, it is our responsibility to listen respectfully to all sides of this issue while implementing required protocols.
Those who would like to share their opinion on the public health orders that affect our students and our schools are encouraged to contact the public officials who have the authority to influence these public policies.
California Governor Gavin Newsom: (916) 445-2841
California Department of Public Health: (916) 558-1784
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: (213) 974-1411
Kathryn Barger, Supervisor, Fifth District: (213) 974-5555
LA County Department of Public Health: (213) 240-8117
As always, we will do our best to keep you updated to any additional changes to the public health orders.
William S. Hart Union High School District