Aug. 23, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

This evening the state public health officer released a letter regarding universal masking indoors at K-12 schools.

The letter warns of "substantial legal, financial, and other risks if [schools] do not follow [the] mandatory universal masking directive." It notes that "schools and school officials may be subject to fines or civil enforcement actions by local health officers for refusal to adhere to the mandatory masking directive." The letter also suggests that certificated employees — "including school administrators—may be subject to referral to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for disciplinary action for violating a mandatory legal duty to implement the masking requirement and knowingly exposing students to preventable harm."

Addressed to school leaders, the letter was also sent to law firms and legal offices that represent schools, as well as various insurance and risk-pool entities that work with K-12 schools in California.

The letter "is intended to ensure all school leaders are fully aware of their legal obligations and the risks of not adhering to them as students return to campus. This letter is a restatement of long-standing policy and law, and should not be construed as setting new requirements. For the vast majority of school officials who are implementing the universal mask requirement, this letter serves only to confirm they have taken some of the appropriate measures to mitigate health, legal, and financial risks."


Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-295-6641