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San Diego Unified School District to lift outdoor mask policy Wednesday

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.
Milan Kovacevic
The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.

Effective Wednesday, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) will update its outdoor masking policy and lift restrictions on field trips, allowing students, staff and others on SDUSD school grounds the option of no longer wearing masks outdoors.

Field trips will be permitted to resume for both indoor and outdoor venues, with health and safety guidelines followed. Indoor masking will continue to be required for all students and staff on district property, including schools and central offices, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

RELATED: California school mask mandate remains for now, but could lift at month's end

"Although we are making significant progress, now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19," Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said. "Through a robust commitment to masking and our vaccination policy, we have made San Diego Unified schools some of the safest places in the community with respect to the virus. We want to keep it that way as we continue navigating out of the pandemic and will adjust accordingly."

The district said its positive COVID-19 cases have decreased 56% since the Omicron variant peak, while testing positivity rates among those without symptoms or close contact have fallen below 1%.

The SDUSD will update only its outdoor protocols as the California Department of Public Health announced this week it will keep its indoor mask mandate in place for schools through at least Feb. 28.

San Diego Unified will reconvene its panel of scientific experts from UC San Diego to begin discussing what conditions would make it advisable to lift the district's indoor mask policy for students and staff.

In addition to consulting with the district's pediatrician and Nursing and Wellness Department, SDUSD remains in regular communication with health professionals at UCSD, the county, and the state regarding the latest guidance on the use of masks indoors.