Presentation High School, Honors Biology teacher, Dr. Tracy Hughes, teachers her class using a Neat Board that allows students online and in person to interact at the same time in San Jose, Calif. on March 18, 2021. Seven of her students were in class and the remaining 22 joined via Zoom. (Jana Kadah/Bay City News)

Santa Clara County public school officials are “encouraged” by the state Department of Health’s update of its school guidance measures for kindergarten through the 12th grade in the Golden State.

“Providing safe, uninterrupted, in-person instruction is key to the mental and physical health and development of our students and I am encouraged by the updates to the K-12 guidance,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, schools superintendent for the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

California’s updated guidance places an emphasis on keeping schools open for in-person instruction throughout the state, consistent with current scientific evidence.

The state’s masking mandate expired at midnight Friday evening. When all students and school staff return to school Monday, masking will be strongly recommended. The transition from California’s masking requirement to strongly recommended may cause some anxiety, local school officials said, especially for individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 or who live with someone who is at higher risk.

In addition to the change in masking, the guidance puts emphasis on other risk mitigation strategies such as hand washing, staying home when feeling ill, proper ventilation, and routine COVID-19 testing.