California, Oregon, Washington ending school mask mandate after March 11

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Students wears masks while working inside a 4th grade class Washington Elementary School in Lynwood, Calif.
Students wears masks while working inside a 4th grade class Washington Elementary School in Lynwood, Calif.


California, Washington and Oregon will end their school mask mandates after March 11, the states' three governors jointly announced on Monday.

The announcement from three Democratic governors adds to a flurry of moves to lift mask mandates in schools and other mandates that remained for the broader public.

"We've continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in a statement.

"While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we've learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe."

The moves come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued long-awaited guidance saying that masks were no longer recommended for about 70 percent of the country where the COVID-19 risk is relatively low, including in schools.

Republicans in particular have attacked school mask mandates, and the issue has been increasingly controversial.

In addition, New York state is ending its mask mandate in schools on Wednesday.

Washington and Oregon are also lifting their indoor mask mandates for the broader public, not just in schools, on March 12, following an earlier move by California.

The governors also said there will still be a mask "recommendation" in schools, even if they are no longer required.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) in the joint statement referred to living with the virus, an area of increasing focus as the omicron wave has now largely descended.

"Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resiliency and prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic," Brown said.

"As we learn to live with this virus, we must remain vigilant to protect each other and prevent disruption to our schools, businesses, and communities - with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable and the people and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."