PUSD lifts outdoor mask requirement for fully vaccinated students and staff

Julie Reichle

PHS Juniors wait in line for their photo to be taken in August 2021

Whether or not to do the same for elementary students will be discussed at a Nov 10 board meeting.

This was an information/discussion item only; no school board action was taken. The board requested an agenda item for its next meeting on November 10 to discuss and take possible action regarding the outdoor mask requirements for students age 5-11.

At Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Randy Booker outlined the district’s plan to lift its outdoor mask requirement for all fully vaccinated students and staff on Nov. 1.

PUSD and its health and safety committee had earlier this year selected the level of five COVID cases per 100,000 (adjusted) in Alameda County to revisit the requirement. As of October 26, the district said, the county had dropped to 4.4 cases per 100,000 (adjusted). Booker told that board that as of Oct. 20, 91% of age-eligible students at PMS were fully vaccinated, with 89% of students at PHS and 80% at MHS.

Although this was an update only, trustees and parents (some of whom were members of the district’s health and safety committee) weighed in with varying levels of support for the move, with some urging greater caution and others calling for going further and removing the outdoor mask mandate for all students, regardless of vaccination status.

Rather than tabling the topic at hand — lifting the outdoor mask mandate for currently vaccinated students and staff — the board asked to look at outdoor masking requirements for students in the 5-11 age group at its next meeting. Lifting the outdoor mask mandate for unvaccinated students has implications for “modified quarantine” procedures, wherein under California Department of Public Health guidelines students may still attend school in person even after being exposed as long as both parties were wearing a mask “in any school setting (indoor or outdoor) supervised by school staff.”

PUSD families and staff received the district email on Thursday saying that the outdoor masking requirement will be lifted for all students, staff, visitors, volunteers, consultants, and contractors who are able to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 on Nov. 1:

“Those students and staff who are currently vaccinated, while no longer required, may still elect to wear a mask outdoors if they so choose.

Recognizing that the COVID-19 vaccination will soon become available for children ages 5-11, the outdoor mask policy will remain in effect for those students until they become ‘fully vaccinated.’  Once we know when children ages 5-11 are eligible to receive the vaccine, we will publish a date by which families of those students will need to provide proof of vaccination (approximately 8 weeks after) and when the outdoor mask policy will be lifted.

‘Fully-vaccinated’ refers to an individual who has received the first and second doses of the vaccine (or, in the case of Johnson & Johnson, the single required dose) and has completed the two-week period that follows to ensure maximum immunity.

If we have learned anything over the past year and a half is that conditions can change rapidly. Should COVID cases in Alameda County again rise above 5 per 100,000 (adjusted), the District will consider reinstating the outdoor mask requirement.”

Outdoor masking is not required by the California Department of Public Health, but the District said it developed this policy and other COVID-19-prevention measures in close consultation with its health and safety committee in August. 

“The Committee is made up of physicians and COVID-19 experts in the Piedmont community who expressed a strong consensus that outdoor masking was prudent and appropriate to promote the health of the school community, and to keep as many students as possible in school following COVID-19 exposure.”

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