INLAND EMPIRE (CBSLA) – Students across the State of California were able to remove their masks while in class for the first time in nearly two years Monday.
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At Norco Intermediate School, a majority of kids opted out of wearing masks on the first day it was optional.
“People did not wear masks, except like two people,” said Dillon, a Norco Intermediate student. “I did not wear a mask. It felt a lot better. Everyone has a choice and it was great. I feel like it was a perfect day.”
Two weeks ago, when the state announced the school mask mandate would be lifted, Domanic Vargas had been wearing his mask half on and half off. He’d been waiting for this day.
“We were able to not, like, not wear masks,” he said, adding that he doesn’t miss it at all.
Family members waiting to pick up children were unsure whether their child wore a mask at school or not.
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“I won’t know until she comes back, but I have a feeling she didn’t,” said Brian Duffield, a grandparent of a Norco Intermediate student.
Two other family members of students, Martha Gonzalez who has a nephew at the school and Kit Huynh who has a daughter there, both said they gave the kids the choice to do whatever made them most comfortable.
“I think he’s a little afraid of taking it off, which is okay. I’m letting him do what he wants to,” Gonzalez said.
“At first she was torn, some of her friends will wear the mask, some of them not, and I told her, ‘You make the call that’s best for you and whatever it is, I support it,’” Huynh said.
Until Monday, students at Norco Intermediate who refused to wear a mask in class were sent outside to study alone, without in-class instruction. The difference for some students is already noticeable.
“Math was hard while I was doing it, but now I understand it and stuff,” said Brianna Sousa, who added that she’s been able to get her grades up.
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Less than 50% of the City of Norco was fully vaccinated just a few weeks ago, and while students are elated that the mandate has been lifted, most of the parents who spoke to CBSLA said they are taking a wait-and-see approach about whether or not the lifting of the mask mandate in schools will remain.