AWHS administration considers future removal of masks in classrooms


Ethan Frankel

Sam Sobieraj studying and wearing a mask in an AWHS classroom.

Ever since students returned to in-person schooling this past May, AWHS students and staff have been required to wear masks on campus, but recently were allowed to remove them outdoors. Although there are no immediate plans to make masks optional in the classroom, AWHS administration is weighing options for later this school year.

AWHS staff and faculty do what they can to keep students safe while also following the safety guidelines administered by the Marin County Health Department (MCHD). The mandate by the MCHD on Aug. 2, 2021 has made it mandatory for people, vaccinated or not, to wear masks at all times indoors. Based on past circumstances with mask mandates, the possibility of this mask mandate being repealed will only be considered when there is a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in Marin County.

 Although AWHS can enforce more lenient policies compared to those suggested by Marin County Public Health, their policies cannot be more strict.

AWHS administration is unsure when masks may become optional to wear during class, if at all. MCHD now says it is optional to wear masks outdoors while at school in their COVID-19 safety regulations. Other than optional masking outdoors, AWHS Assistant Principal Nate Severin says that nothing else is for certain in terms of mask requirements. 

“Here is the thing with masking, and when masks may or may not be removed; I don’t know,” Severin said. “Right now I know that we have to wear masks inside, and the requirement for masking outside was removed to just a recommendation, which is why the school has now allowed masks to be taken off outside on campus.”

COVID-19 safety regulations at AWHS are given to the administration by the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD). The school district bases their regulations off of MCHD’s input on ways to decrease the spread of COVID-19, as well as the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Marin County.

TUHSD encourages all students and staff to get vaccinated so that they may make more relaxed COVID-19 safety regulations, but they have not made it a requirement.

“If more and more students and staff get vaccinated, a change could be possible, but the district will not be requiring students to get fully vaccinated like the Los Angeles Unified School District recently did,” said President of the TUHSD Board of Trustees, Leslie Harlander.

Although nobody from the school district or the county office of education knows exactly when masks can be removed indoors, they do have lists of actions that could hasten the process. These things include hand washing or hand sanitizer, getting vaccinated, using seating charts and attendance records for contact tracing, not holding large gatherings indoors, and limiting the number of parents and other community members not affiliated with AWHS from entering the campus. AWHS administration and TUHSD hope that the removal of masks will happen before the end of the 2021-2022 school year.