RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Beginning next week, the West Contra Costa Unified School District will require all staff members to wear a medical-grade KN-95 mask while at school sites.

The new requirement comes as COVID cases are surging in the Bay Area and the state as well as throughout the country. The announcement from WCCUSD comes days after district staffers and volunteers Sunday distributed 15,000 COVID-19 test kits to families to enable more students to return to school Monday.

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“Everyone on our school sites deserves to feel safe and informed about COVID-19 and we are always prepared to adapt our safety measures when the conditions change,” Superintendent Kenneth Chris Hurst, Ed.D said in a press statement. “The spike in cases because of the omicron variant requires us to take further action to protect our staff members and school communities.”

WCCUSD has ordered enough masks for each of the district’s 3,000 employees to have one KN-95 mask per week through the end of the school year. The KN-95 masks are expected to arrive this week for distribution to school sites before Monday, January 10.

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“Experts agree that these masks offer extra protection against the COVID-19 virus,” said Hurst. “The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we believe this is another important preventive measure we must take at this time.”

Also on Tuesday, WCCSD opened three additional testing sites available to all students and staff district-wide.

Both WCCUSD and the Oakland Unified School District were testing and handing out at-home test kits to students on Sunday. Oakland Unified credited the mass testing effort over the holidays in helping find nearly 1,000 cases among students and staff before classes resumed Monday.

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