Campus mask mandate ends in April

Door of BGS Building on Saddleback College| Photo taken by Autumn| LARIAT

District chancellor announced the policy update while strongly urging individuals to make choices in consult with health professionals

Mask mandates for in-person classes will come to an end effective April 11. The district chancellor announced in an email on Thursday, although wearing a mask will continue to be recommended.


Mask mandates have already loosened, per updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the district still recommends consulting with health care professionals regarding what’s best for each individual.


“The lifting of our mask requirement and shift to a recommendation corresponds with CDC guidelines based on current community risk levels,” said Kathleen Burke, chancellor of South Orange County Community College District. “We anticipate that risk levels could increase based on variants or surges in the months or years ahead.”


This comes on the heels of the public health announcement released last week on Feb. 28 from the office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.


“In California, starting March 1, masks will no longer be required for unvaccinated individuals, but will be strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings,” Newsom said. “After March 11, in schools and childcare facilities, masks will not be required but will be strongly recommended. As always, local jurisdictions may have additional requirements beyond the state guidance.”


The decision to wear protective masks indoors and remove them rest primarily on the science community. The CDC has played a prominent role in how California has decided to approach this unexpected epidemic. The South County Community College District continues to follow suit.


“Decisions come from the chancellor and the executive team which is the two presidents,” said Letitia Clark, District Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations. “Their reviewing everything to follow the science and ensure that everyone feels safe and protected while on campus.” 


Clark added that students also play a prominent role in how decisions are made by the district.


She said students should get in touch with their local representatives so their voices can be heard about new initiatives implemented by the district. 


“Student government representatives are the direct line to the president, the chancellor and the board,” Clark said.


Saddleback College’s student government representatives are the “Associated Student Government.” The ASG president sits in on most district meetings and is responsible for giving the student perspective.


In fact, the decision to implement the vaccination mandate came about from a joint effort between Saddleback College president, Elliott Stern Ph.D., and the ASG office. ASG holds weekly meetings which are announced ahead of time so anyone can attend. In fact, there is a spot for public comments.


“ASG is a publicly funded institution,” said Sam Lockhart, ASG president. “We have to comply with California rules and regulations, part of that is posting our agenda’s 72 hours in advance of the meeting date on our website.


Early Thursday morning, Lockhart was asked if the district intends on limiting the mask mandate for indoor classes, his response was “be on the lookout for an announcement from the district.”


The announcement was made that afternoon.


Photo changed on March 14 at 12:46 p.m.