Portola High to Lift Indoor Mask Requirement Following Updated State Guidelines


Tyler Kim

Portola administration anticipates that many students and staff will go maskless unless they are in a large area with multiple people indoors, according to assistant principal Amy Paulsen. “I’m already noticing when I see people off campus, large students together without masks gathering and going places,” Paulsen said.

Face masks will no longer be mandatory but instead “strongly recommended” inside Portola High classrooms starting March 12, in accordance with California’s new indoor mask policies announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Feb. 28.

State health officials have cited declining COVID-19 case rates and decreased hospitalizations to warrant the new guidelines, according to IUSD public information officer Annie Brown in a Feb. 28 district-wide announcement.

“When my teacher announced that we don’t have to wear masks anymore starting March 14, I started clapping, and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’” sophomore Ennes Kahf said. “I think this is a good step that we’re taking. Especially because the cases are getting so low now, I think it makes sense that masks aren’t required anymore.”

The announcement comes after two years of mandatory mask wearing in the classroom as the country continues to relax public health orders, according to NBC news.

I think we just need to proceed with what we’re comfortable with and understand everyone’s different.

— Amy Paulsen

“I just want everyone to be respectful. That will be my main concern,” assistant principal Amy Paulsen said. “I think we just need to proceed with what we’re comfortable with and understand everyone’s different.”

While 76% of Orange County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the OC Health Care Agency, Paulsen said that masking may still remain essential for those with higher risk family members at home.

“The last two years have been such an interesting time for all of us, with fear and safety and caution and cleanliness and so much that I hope we all remember that COVID is not gone, that COVID is still here,” Spanish teacher Kari Tubbs said. “We’re doing better, but to always go into each day trying to be the healthiest for ourselves and others, and to really remember that we have a community and a society and it’s not just all about ourselves.”