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Indoor mask requirement returns for San Diego Unified School District

San Diego Unified has re-instated its mask mandate indoors at all school campuses and district office as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. Mandatory mask wearing impacts students and teachers in summer school and other enrichment programs. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has the latest.

The San Diego Unified School District re-instated its indoor masking mandate, Monday.

The risk of catching COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases in San Diego County jumped significantly last week, prompting the Centers for Disease Control to elevate the transmission threat warning to its highest level.

That triggered San Diego Unified’s indoor mask mandate at all school campuses and district offices.

The mandate applies to students, teachers, and staff attending summer school and summer enrichment programs for the next two weeks.

Jim Olivari picked up his two grandsons Jude Seidl, 7, and Weston Seidl, 6, from summer classes at Golden Hill Elementary, Monday.

They spent the morning inside required to wear a mask while they learned. It takes some getting used to again.

When asked to name the hardest part of wearing a mask inside, Jude said, "The fact that I had to pull it back up when I was done eating.”

His younger brother, Weston, told KPBS News that he did not like wearing a mask inside again because "it makes my face sweaty.”

Richard Barrera is the school board trustee leading the district’s COVID-19 protections and protocols plan. The latest surge was expected. Barrera said, “When we hit certain thresholds, then we ramp up our safety precautions and I think it has kept students and staff safe.”

"We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 community level according to the CDC and County data and we will communicate if there are any changes in two weeks," the school district said in a letter sent to students and parents.

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, the school board has delayed its mandate requiring vaccinations for eligible students 16 and up until July of next year. All employees still must be fully vaccinated in order to keep their jobs. New hires, this summer, must provide proof of vaccination before they can start.

Back at Golden Hill Elementary, Jim Olivari is not convinced his grandsons Jude and Weston are extra protected at all.

“I don’t think that the masks help at all. In fact, their parents are from Iowa, and they flew to Iowa a month ago, both wore their masks with their mother, and the three of them came down with COVID," said Olivari.