County of Marin - News Releases - Face Coverings at Schools

For Immediate Release
August 19, 2021

Face Coverings Urged at Schools, Even Outdoors

County education and health officials on board with masking precautions

San Rafael, CA – Schools are back in session or about to open doors throughout Marin County, and the COVID-19 variants are prompting public health and school officials to urge the use of face coverings by anyone on school properties.

The Marin County Office of Education and Marin County Public Health are calling on all families to adopt the practice of masking up at all times when on campus, even outdoors. With the Delta variant circulating in the community, universal masking is an added layer of protection for the entire school community.

A girl approximately 6 years old wears a protective face covering and uses a pencil and paper to do schoowork.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mask use because of evidence showing the effectiveness of face covering in both protecting the wearer and others around them.

“Looking across the nation as schools reopen it’s clear the Delta variant presents new challenges,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “We’ve risen to challenges before by following the guidance and using common sense. Face covering is among the easiest and most effective tools we have.”

Last year, Marin was one of the first California counties to reopen all schools to some form of in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year. Only 19 cases of suspected in-school transmission occurred during the more than 2,800,000 student-days that were recorded last year.

“One key ingredient of our success has been the strong leadership of public health in guiding our protocols all along the way,” said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools. “That guidance was adopted across all Marin Schools and we had great success with preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campuses because of precautionary measures and the hard of work of school staff and visitors. We’re now building on the success of last year.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mask use because of evidence showing the effectiveness of face covering in two ways. For infected people, masks reduce the risk they will infect another person. For people who are not infected, wearing a mask reduces the risk they will be infected, even if someone around them is spreading the virus. Because the risk of transmission between two people is lowest when both are masked (“mask on mask”), universal masking is regarded as the safest policy. CDC also recommends face coverings in outdoor settings for people who are unvaccinated and in sustained close contact with other people (e.g., playground activity). The American Association of Pediatrics echoes CDC’s recommendation and supports universal masking on school campuses to protect unvaccinated students from COVID-19 and reduce transmission, recognizing a significant portion of the student population remains unvaccinated either because of personal choice or ineligibility. 

“Facial coverings are a critical tool to help make sure schools are still open two weeks from now and beyond,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Officer for Marin County. “Masking on campus both indoors and outdoors helps protect youngsters who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Teachers occasionally use clear face shields to enable students to see their teachers’ mouth while speaking and to avoid potential barriers to phonological instruction. Face shields can be worn over a mask or with a drape to prevent airborne particles entering inside or escaping from the face shield.

Masks should be worn to cover the nose and entire chin, preferably pinched snugly around the nose and the sides of the face. A face covering can be made of cloth, fabric, or other breathable material, but it should not have holes. Marin County Office of Education encourages schools to offer accommodations to students with medical or behavioral needs.

On August 2, Marin joined other Bay Area counties in requiring the use of masks indoors in public settings for everyone – vaccinated or unvaccinated – out of an abundance of caution as Delta variant COVID-19 cases spiked. Masks are not required in outdoor public areas but are strongly recommended in crowded environments.

For more information about the use face coverings and other tips to reduce your risk of COVID-19 infection, visit Marin Public Health’s COVID-19 website.  For details on school reopening protocols, visit Marin County Office of Education’s “Rethinking Schools” website.


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website