Students no longer have to cover their noses and mouth across the Golden State.
The California State Legislature removed a school mask mandate on March 14. The decision gives students and staff the choice of whether to wear a face mask on school grounds since the rule was imposed in mid-2021.
Some individuals in the Bay Area still wore masks, especially at Concord High School in Contra Costa County, where about 70% did so voluntarily.
Principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff revealed most employees also continued to don masks.
At least one teacher invited students to join a “mask reveal” session where students remove their facial coverings and see each other face-to-face for the first time.
Junior student Kaila Murillo was amazed at how differently her friends looked after becoming used to only seeing their eyes and ears. She complained about her glasses fogging up and allergic reactions from the mask.
“I threw all my masks out this morning,” she said according to the USA Today Network. “It felt great, it felt like summer is almost here, it feels like you can finally breathe.”
Junior classmate Karen Jauregui hesitated to remove her mask at first.
“It was a little scary to not wear a mask, but almost everyone I know has had COVID and gotten better, and I am fully vaccinated,” she said, according to the media outlet.
Other schools in the Central Valley and Northern California foothills also followed suit.
Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom previously predicted school campuses in 32 counties would stay closed for several months.
Newsom previously directed campuses to impose mask requirements for students and teachers, COVID-19 testing, and social distancing before reopening.
“Public education is absolutely about our kids but we cannot deny the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of adults that are responsible for taking care of and educating our kids as well,” he previously said, according to EdSource. “Their health has to be considered as well.”