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SDUSD outlines possible return to indoor mask mandates

With increases in COVID-19 cases in schools and communities, the San Diego Unified School District has a plan to reinstate mask mandates starting Wednesday if specific conditions are met in individual schools.

In a letter to families obtained by KPBS, the district indicated its plans to require students at specific schools to wear masks indoors for at least two weeks if:

— Within 14 days, at least three outbreaks, defined as three or more cases in an individual classroom or stable group, occur in the school, and more than 5% of the school population is affected; or


— In a three consecutive-day span, 10% or more of the student population is absent each day due to illness.

"Over the past several weeks there has been a steady increase in COVID-19 cases in our schools, our local communities in San Diego County, and across our country as a whole," the district stated in its letter to families. "While this is not the rapid surge we saw in January, it is still a concern and a trend that we expect to continue."

School Board Trustee Richard Barrera said the district is aiming for a balanced plan to keep students safe and healthy, but also in-person for learning.

“It's important to say that we are not anticipating in any school right now that the indoor mask mandate would be in place,” Barrera said. “We think it’s not likely that we're going to see it happen before the end of the school year, which is in three weeks.”

SDUSD said that families will be notified if their schools or the district reach those certain levels.


The new rules would apply for the rest of this school year as well as summer school.

Vivian Bui’s daughter is in the fourth grade at Hawthorne Elementary School in Clairemont. The mother of two said that her double-vaccinated child recently caught COVID-19 and her school has had quite a few cases in recent weeks.

“I’m totally supportive of doing the mandate [and] the masks again,” Bui said. “Because I recognize that for the last three weeks so far in her class, there are students who got COVID.”

According to the letter, the district will mandate indoor masks universally if San Diego County reaches the "high" level of COVID-19 cases as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county is currently in the "low" category.

As of May 11, 1,570 students in the district were reported absent because of COVID-19 symptoms.

For the week of May 15-21, 1,112 positive COVID-19 cases from students and staff were reported in the district.

According to data provided by the district, 47% of students ages 5-11 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 71% of students ages 12-15 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 84% of students ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.