Coronavirus Resources District information pertaining to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Covid-19 Mask Update

Feb 14, 2022

(Spoiler Alert – This is a long, yet important message)

For two years, our world has been navigating the impacts of COVID-19. For some, the pandemic has meant confronting a life-altering illness, extended stays in the hospital, or the loss of loved ones. For others, the pandemic has simply been an annoyance, a frustration. Yet, we remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver outstanding educational opportunities to our students through it all.

Regardless of where you stand or what the pandemic means to you, we can agree that the last two years have not been easy. Disagreements over vaccine mandates, masks, and business closures have divided families, friends, and communities. However, despite this division, I believe there is common ground with plenty of space for us to stand together. We find the same goal; a desire to return to the life we remember before the pandemic. Our disagreements are not about where to go but how to get there.

From the beginning, SCCCD has confronted the pandemic in partnership with our state and local health officials to develop and implement our COVID-19 safety measures. Collectively, we believe this is the best way to continue advancing our mission while providing a safe learning and working environment for students and employees. Please know I consider disagreements over these decisions seriously, just as I take inspiration from our students in overcoming adversity to complete their education, and faculty and staff making possible what initially appeared impossible.

As we enter another phase of this pandemic, we see a glimmer of hope: vaccination rates are up, infection rates are coming down, and hospital occupancy is improving. Against this backdrop, the State of California’s universal indoor masking for fully vaccinated individuals will expire tomorrow, February 15, 2022. Effective February 16, 2022, universal masking shall remain required in specific settings, and only unvaccinated persons must mask in all Indoor Public Settings. It will also be recommended that fully vaccinated individuals continue indoor masking when the risk may be high. In addition, state health officials announced last Monday that they are working with “education, public health, and community leaders to update masking requirements at schools to adapt to changing conditions and ensure the safety of kids, teachers, and staff.” Politicians and public health authorities will undoubtedly debate and review this decision and its possible implementation in K12 programs and other congregate settings such as senior residential living facilities and community colleges.

This mandate follows a statewide 65% decline in test positivity rates from the peak of the Omicron surge. Unfortunately, locally, our rates have yet to follow the statewide drop as much as we all would like. Therefore, after meeting with our local hospital officials and district-wide COVID response team, we believe our data-informed, collaborative approach is the best way to continue advancing our mission while providing a safe learning and working environment for students and employees. To that end, as politicians and health professionals work on implementing this new mask policy and how that looks for K12, senior residential living, and congregate settings like community colleges, I’m going to ask us to all stay the course as we evaluate.

The rationale for this move is simple. The current governor’s directive is specifically designed for those individuals who are vaccinated. As you know, our District has implemented a vaccine mandate and has provided an exemption process for those with medical and religious beliefs, which continues to be our Board of Trustee’s policy.

As previously stated, the governor’s new guidance lifts the mask requirement for only vaccinated individuals. This approach places too much responsibility on staff and faculty to monitor. Additionally, masking for some and not others may lead to further disagreement and feeling of being “othered”.

As your chancellor, I am not inclined, at this time, to have a two-tiered approach to masking. This would unfairly place the burden of implementation on our faculty and staff and may further divide our colleagues with opposing views. Additionally, we will continue to maintain staggered schedules for many classified professionals and counselors in service areas previously designated to work a modified in-person service schedule.

The pandemic’s informal motto has been, “we are all in this together,” and continues to hold true whether people are or aren’t vaccinated. In this spirit, committing to a few more weeks of universal masking will achieve the following:

  • Help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at work and school,
  • Promote an inclusive learning and working environment by avoiding visual symbols that separate people based on vaccination status, and
  • Relieve the administrative burden of monitoring compliance based on vaccination status.

I don’t like wearing a mask - I don’t know anyone who does. But we are all in this together. The District COVID Taskforce team will continue to monitor our district and regional health. I pledge to move forward with transparency in these decision-making processes and will continue to provide updates as we closely consider our regional and local health data in how we move forward as a district.


Dr. Carole Goldsmith, Ed.D.
State Center Community College District