LAUSD to end indoor mask requirement for students, employees next week

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Unified School District students and staff will be able to remove their masks indoors, with the district announcing Friday it has reached agreements with its labor unions to lift the face-covering requirement.

The district announced it will now only strongly recommend masks indoors. The new policy will begin no later than Wednesday, March 23, officials said in a news release.

According to LAUSD, the new agreement still needs to be formally ratified by union members, but that process has already begun, and the mandate is expected to be lifted by Wednesday.

Most local districts removed the mask mandate earlier this week, but LAUSD and the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, have been meeting to come to an agreement.

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"I strongly support ending the indoor mask requirement and am committed to continuing to uphold our science-based approach to COVID-19 safety and protocols," LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement.

"I want to personally thank our students, employees and families for their support and patience. We know some in our school communities and offices will continue to wear masks, while others may not," Carvalho's statement added. "Please consider your situation and do what is best for you or your child. Now that this important issue is behind us, it is time to focus on each student's full academic potential."

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The pact with UTLA, while allowing for a lifting of the mask mandate, calls for continued weekly COVID testing of all students and staff through the end of the school year. The district also must continue to offer KN95 or N95 mask to any employee who requests them. The district also must provide take-home COVID tests to all students and staff "for baseline testing prior to the beginning of the 2022 spring break."

The agreement will be in place until June 30. Additional talks will be held later to determine protocols for the next school year.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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