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The Los Angeles Unified School District is banning students from wearing only cloth masks on campus as the country grapples with a continued rise in COVID-19 infections caused by the omicron variant.
The neighborhood announced updated guidance Friday, requiring students to wear “snug-fitting, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” inside and out. Employees will be required to wear surgical grade masks or higher.
Students and employees will be able to obtain masks from the borough if they need them.
“Our school [coronavirus infection] rates have dropped, but we continue to be diligent and nimble in creating the safest learning environment,” district spokeswoman Shannon Haber told the Los Angeles Times.
The new policy takes effect on Monday, the newspaper reported.
According to public health experts, the cloth masks common at the start of the pandemic may no longer be enough to prevent you from catching the highly contagious variant of omicron. Instead, officials recommend an N95 or similar high-filtration respirator for added protection against the virus.
Omicron is now the dominant strain of COVID in the United States, accounting for over 99% of cases, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Los Angeles recorded more than 39,000 new COVID cases on Saturday amid its highest spike in cases to date during the pandemic over the past two weeks, although deaths remained well below what they were last winter.
The nation’s second-largest school system also requires weekly COVID-19 testing of all students and employees, and they must present a negative test to come to campus.