First published in the Feb. 17 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Following the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommendation, the La Cañada Unified School District eschewed the outdoor masking requirement for students and staff on Wednesday as the number of COVID-positive hospital patients continued to plunge across L.A. County.
Wednesday marked the seventh consecutive day that COVID-19 patients remained below 2,500 — the benchmark previously set by Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
The state of California also lifted its COVID-19 indoor mask-wearing requirement for vaccinated people this week, but L.A. County will continue enforcing its own indoor face-covering mandate for all people regardless of vaccination status. The rule will remain in place until the county’s virus-transmission rate falls to the “moderate” level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and stays there for two weeks, Ferrer said at a press briefing on Tuesday. At the current declining pace, she noted, the “moderate” level should be reached by March 16, which would set the indoor mask mandate to be lifted by March 30.
Meanwhile, La Cañada Unified School District elementary schools celebrated the return to a semblance of normalcy as the playground grouping and zone requirements for recess and outdoor games were lifted, allowing children to play and mingle freely for the first time in nearly two years.
“Our elementary school sites have been in cohorts since we returned for in-person instruction last school year, so this is truly a joyous occasion,” LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said in a letter to families. “Personally, I would like to commend our amazing students, teachers and staff for doing such an outstanding job of maintaining the cohorts which have been essential for our abilities to effectively contact trace in response to a positive COVID-19 case/exposure and work as a district community to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
The elementary school principals and classroom teachers spent time this week going over the new playground rules and expectations. Although masks are no longer required outdoors, students and staff who elect to continue masking “are supported in their decisions to do so,” she added.
“Our progress in this two-year campaign to re-open and keep open our LCUSD schools has been marked by significant milestones like these. Every achievement is attributable to the perseverance, civic mindedness and committed resolve of the LCUSD community to ensure the health and safety of our schools in service to students, teachers, staff and families,” she concluded.
“I am eternally grateful to all of you and look forward to a fourth quarter in the 2021-2022 school year which returns us to as much normalcy as possible.”