LA Unified to End Indoor Mask Mandate Next Week

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LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced it will end its indoor mask mandate for students and staff by March 23 after a week of negotiating an existing contract with its teachers’ union. 

“Los Angeles Unified is pleased to announce that we have reached agreement with labor groups to align with the guidance from the State of California and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to make masking strongly recommended,” the district said in a March 18 statement.

March 18 agreement between the school district and the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) includes a requirement for weekly COVID-19 testing for students and staff until the end of the school year. 

Under the agreement, the district will also provide take-home antigen tests for all students and staff before returning to campus after the 2022 spring break, and N95 masks are also available for all staff upon request. 

The parties will also meet again in mid-April and mid-May to “review the testing policy for the 2021-22 school year.”

New LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho—who took office last month—said in the district’s statement expressing his strong support for the change. 

“I strongly support ending the indoor mask requirement and am committed to continuing to uphold our science-based approach to COVID-19 safety and protocols,” he said. “We know some in our school communities and offices will continue to wear masks, while others may not. Please consider your situation and do what is best for you or your child.” 

Carvalho went on to say he now wants to shift the district’s focus to improving academic performance. 

“Now that this important issue is behind us, it is time to focus on each student’s full academic potential,” he said.

This comes after the LAUSD has held a series of meetings with the union to re-negotiate a previous contract, which included a requirement for “enforced indoor masking” until the end of the 2022 school year. 

By Micaela Ricaforte

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