Effective March 12, mask requirements become strong recommendations in K-12 and childcare settings
Childcare settings and K-12 schools in Berkeley will be able to decide on March 12 whether they should require students and staff to wear masks - a highly effective tool that is strongly recommended in indoor public settings statewide.
People and organizations will choose to mask or require it for a variety of reasons. Respecting others for their decisions will help keep us stronger as a community. Be prepared to mask where others require.
The statewide shift reflects the current state of the pandemic: the rapid decline of cases and very low rate of hospitalizations and severe illness. Both the City of Berkeley and the rest of Alameda County are aligned with that decision.
"At this time, we feel comfortable changing the order to a strong recommendation, which allows for more flexibility in how people and facilities implement safety measures in schools and childcare." said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer.
"We know that properly worn N95, KN95, and other highly effective masks are protective and also dramatically lower unintended spread," she added. "New surges that threaten public health and the lives of vulnerable residents may call for quick and assertive action - including new requirements to mask."
Masking still required in certain environments, other jurisdictions
Since Feb. 16, the statewide mask order has dictated what is required for masking in Berkeley.
Masks are still required for 10 days for those who had a known exposure to COVID-19. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are also required to wear a mask for 10 days, regardless of whether they test negative on the fifth day and qualify to exit isolation.
Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must mask in public transportation; health care settings; congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters; and long-term care facilities.
Some jurisdictions will have stricter rules, based on the conditions there. Wherever you travel to, use local orders to guide the minimum precautions you should take.
As with schools and childcare, businesses and workplaces can choose to maintain masking requirements for everyone at least 2 years of age.
Families should weigh their own risk when kids mask
State and local public health officials strongly recommend that everyone mask indoor public settings. In environments where they are given a choice, families should have their children mask based on their sense of medical risk, such as a family members' particular vulnerabilities.
If your child has health conditions or if they are immunocompromised, speak with their medical provider about masking.
We strongly encourage parents, guardians, and schools to talk with their students about how to respect the decisions other students and families make about masking.
When you’re in places where others are unmasked, you can still use a mask to protect yourself. Adults should use a well-fitted N95 over mouth and nose. Kids can use a KN95 or KF94.
Use pandemic tools to keep your family safe
Families should keep their children home when they test positive or experience symptoms of COVID-19. Use testing to confirm illness. Isolate or quarantine to break cycles of spread.
Stay up to date with vaccination and boosters. They protect you and also limit spread to your family.
Those who effectively use proven public health tools will continue to best navigate the pandemic.
- Guidance for the Use of Face Masks (California Department of Public Health)
- City of Berkeley COVID-19 Resources
- COVID-19 Vaccination (City of Berkeley)
- Signs (City of Berkeley Outreach Library)
- Most businesses, organizations able to set own mask rules on March 1 (City of Berkeley)