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Community Forum Calls for Extension of School Mask Mandates

On Tuesday, a coalition of Sonoma County medical professionals, parents, teachers and students called for an extension of local mask mandates in order to protect residents hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The forum, which centered the experience of the county’s Latinx and immigrant communities, came in response to the state’s decision roll back many pandemic restrictions as part of the state’s new “endemic” strategy.

In late February, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state would no longer require schools and child care facilities to require masks. In the absence of a statewide requirement, local school districts may independently decide to keep mask mandates in place. In Sonoma County, that means 40 separate school boards will decide whether or not to require students and staff to wear masks after the state requirement lapses on Friday, March 11.

Speakers at the Tuesday forum argued that extending mask mandates for a few weeks or through the end of the school year would help control case loads, protecting school employees, students and the larger community, especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

For instance, while Latinx residents make up 23.7% of the county’s population, they have suffered 50% of documented Covid cases, 40% of hospitalizations and 31% of deaths, according to county data.

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