Gov. Gavin Newsom announces plan to lift indoor mask mandate in schools on March 12


On Feb. 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan to loosen the state’s current mask mandates. Unvaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks in most indoor settings starting on March 1. On March 12, the mask mandate in schools and other child care facilities will be lifted for all individuals regardless of vaccination status. 

Currently, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) said it will follow the guidelines unless Santa Clara County applies additional requirements beyond the state guidance. In a statement posted to ParentSquare, PAUSD said indoor masking will be optional in schools on March 14—two years after students were first sent home.

While masks will no longer be required, they are still strongly recommended by the state’s public health department. “California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic,” Newsom said in his announcement. “Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high.”

Despite the changes, federal law still enforces mask wearing in some settings like public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities. 

Currently, the Santa Clara county averages at around 423 new COVID-19 cases per day according to the New York Times. During the week of the Feb. 13, zero new cases were reported by PAUSD at Gunn.