LA school district will require students to wear better masks for classes and sports

Students and staff in the nation's second-largest school district will be required to wear non-cloth masks that have a nose wire, including while participating in athletic activities, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced, and pictured, a school on January 11, in California.

By Stella Chan, CNN

(CNN) -- Starting Monday, students and staff in the nation's second-largest school district will be required to wear non-cloth masks that have a nose wire, including while participating in athletic activities, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced.

Schools will provide surgical-style masks for students and employees who need them and they can only be removed while eating and drinking, according to the LAUSD.

Weekly testing for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will continue at least through February. Those identified as close contacts will be allowed to remain on campus as long as they are asymptomatic and participate in weekly testing.

"In-school cases rates dropped 7% since our baseline testing and current rates of students and staff are half of those in the general community due to the safety measures in place," said Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly in the announcement. "We continue to be diligent and agile in creating the safest learning environments."

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidelines to recommend people "wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently." The agency described well-fitting respirators approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, such as N95 masks, as offering "the highest level of protection."

The updated guidelines come after many public health experts have been recommending for months that people wear more effective masks -- particularly N95s -- and that the CDC change its guidelines on mask-wearing.

The issue of mask requirements continues to be a politically divisive one across the nation, and has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Virginia, districts are split on newly inaugurated Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's demand by executive order that parents have the option to send their kids to school unmasked. At the same time, President Joe Biden is pushing masks into communities, making 400 million N95 masks available to Americans at pharmacies and community health centers as part of his strategy to rein in the Covid-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant.

Over the weekend, Gonzaga University suspended season tickets for alumni and Hall of Fame basketball player John Stockton after he refused to comply with the school's mask mandates at games.

Stockton has been vocal about his feelings against Covid-19 vaccines, lockdowns and mask mandates, expressing his views in the documentary "COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed" that includes commentary from doctors known for spreading misinformation.

The-CNN-Wire
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