Ravenswood City School District students and staff will continue to wear their masks both indoors and outdoors until at least mid-April. This makes it the only district in the area that will still require masks next week.
The school board made the decision on Thursday, after district staff gathered community feedback about whether to require masks on campuses over the last two weeks. COVID-19 cases rates are higher within district boundaries than the rest of San Mateo County on average, but are one-third of what they were on March 10, according to a March 24 staff report.
Teachers union and classified staff leadership said they'd prefer to continue mask requirements for the rest of the school year, according to the report. District advisory committees, made up of district parents, staff and community leaders, said they would like to keep the indoor mask mandate until there is more information, the report states. They committees reported feeling comfortable with lifting the outdoor mask mandate.
The school board last reviewed its policy two weeks ago after the state dropped its indoor masking mandate at schools, making it optional, earlier this month.
The Mountain View Whisman School District board voted Thursday to remove its indoor mask mandate starting on Monday, March 28. Wearing a face covering will still be strongly recommended.
The Ravenswood board will revisit its masking policies again at a Thursday, April 14, meeting.
Since the board's last meeting two weeks ago, district staff collected COVID-19 student vaccination data through a state database. About 43% of Ravenswood students are fully vaccinated, while only 27.7% of district students are both fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible), according to a staff presentation.
Case rates in the Ravenswood district area are still higher than the county average but are significantly lower than they were when the district presented to the board two weeks ago, said Ann Waterman Roy, the district's strategic pandemic recovery consultant.
Since March 12, there have been just three COVID-19 cases districtwide on campus, as of Thursday, March 24. Superintendent Gina Sudaria noted that the data does not include students or staff who test positive for the virus while not on campus.
The state dropped outdoor mask requirements in June 2021 (except at large events like concerts, sporting events).
The district has required outdoor masking because of modified quarantine rules. Under modified quarantine, exposed students could stay on campus only if masked when exposed, according to the staff report.
School board President Mele Latu said she'd like to lift the district's outdoor mask mandate after students return from spring break in April. She noted that the district's campuses have "the capacity and space" to be able to lift the outdoor requirement.
Trustee Jenny Varghese Bloom said her preference is to stick to both the outdoor and indoor mask requirements until the end of the school year. She has two small children and said she knows kids hang out right next to their friends outdoors, which increases their chances of virus exposure. She's also concerned about the district's low vaccination rates compared to the average across San Mateo County.
"From all accounts we're reading, there is going to be a surge," she said. "That's what we're seeing around the world. ... We have to be really practical and understand that kids are resilient. ... If we have to come back in a few weeks because there's a surge and we have to tell kids they have to put their masks back on after we told them to take them off, that's going to be even harder for our staff and our principals and our teachers."
Watch a full video of the March 24 meeting: