SAN FRANCISCO, California — The San Francisco Unified School District announced Friday that it will no longer require masks in middle schools and high schools starting March 12.

The agreement between SFUSD and its unions states that starting April 2, masking will be strongly recommended but not required at all district schools, including pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten, elementary, and K-8 schools. 

“We are committed to following public health guidance, and our health officials have stated that masks in schools are no longer required but still recommended. We are starting with middle and high schools, where there are higher vaccination rates, in order to give more time for families of younger students to get their children vaccinated,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said.

“We recognize changes in masking and contact tracing practices will be a transition for our community. Throughout this pandemic, we have had to constantly change but I trust we are moving in the right direction when we follow the science,” Matthews said.

Earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials dropped the state’s mask mandate for schools beginning March 12 — local jurisdictions are free to impose their own requirements.

“United Administrators of San Francisco is in full support of our joint MOU created by the Unions of San Francisco and the District,” UASF President Michael Essien said.

“It allows ample time for our staff, students, and families to adjust to the new procedures regarding group tracing and masking,” Essien said.

As part of the agreement to transition to recommended masking, SFUSD will direct school sites to post at the entrances of all schools and worksites signage that says masks are strongly recommended for all staff, students, and visitors.

SFUSD officials said they will continue to provide an “adequate supply of COVID-19 tests at school and worksites for all staff and students.”

Starting March 24, the district will also implement the group tracing method of COVID-19 contact tracing — which will allow students who come in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to stay in school and test unless symptoms worsen.

Additionally, all SFUSD students and staff will be expected to use the rapid tests given by the district prior to returning from spring break on April 4.