BREAKING: San Diego Unified School District Reinstates Mask Mandate

Despite studies showing no effect on transmission rates
Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema
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The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has announced that it will be reinstating an indoor mask mandate effective Monday, July 18th. The mandate will apply to all students and faculty, regardless of vaccination status, participating in summer school activities. 

“If you are working at a central office or summer school site, please be sure to wear your mask indoors. Masks will be provided for those who need them. Students and staff will be required to wear their masks while indoors only,” a letter to SDUSD staffers, which was obtained by NBC San Diego, said. 

“If your student is participating in summer school or other summer enrichment program, please send them to school or their program with a mask. If they do not have one, masks will be provided. Students and staff will be required to wear their masks while indoors only,” SDUSD continued in an email to parents. 

The district announced in May that it would determine mask policies based on a particular set of metrics, including individual school “outbreaks” as well as CDC hospitalization data. San Diego County has recently experienced an uptick in COVID hospitalizations, which motivated the district’s actions. 

The decision drew an immediate backlash from both citizens and elected officials on social media. 

“I have never been happier to leave your joke of a district. Kids can’t read or do math and bringing back masks is going to help soooo much. Absolute clown show,” one citizen tweeted. 

“Disappointing and wrong! These kids need normalcy and we have vaccines now too. Stop with the cruel and unnecessary masks,” another citizen agreed. 

“This is unsupported by science and contradicts common sense. We will fight this and defeat it again,” said Darrell Issa, a Republican representing California’s 50th District in the House of Representatives. 

It is unclear whether the mask mandate is just for the summer or if it will continue into the new school year. In any case, San Diego may soon be joined by Los Angeles, who will reimpose a universal mask mandate (which would include schools, but not gyms), if metrics remain where they are for at least two weeks. 

Numerous studies have found that neither students nor teachers are at disproportionate risk of acquiring or suffering negative consequences from COVID-19. Regarding masking, researchers studying two adjacent school districts in North Dakota found that instituting a mask mandate did not reduce COVID transmission rates. Furthermore, the study also indicated that COVID transmission did not change when mask mandates were lifted. 

Garion Frankel
Garion Frankel is a graduate student at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service with a concentration in education policy and management. He is a Young Voices contributor, and Chalkboard Review’s breaking news reporter.