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SAN DIEGO — Students and staff in San Diego County will still be required to wear masks until the end of the school year, as children under the age of 12 cannot yet get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The county announced Monday that it will follow the state’s lead and wait until June 15, when state officials are expected to implement new guidelines that allow fully vaccinated individuals to go without masks.

Parents rallied outside the county administration building Monday morning, calling that their children be able to go maskless in classrooms.

“Both elementary and middle schools are going to have the vast majority of its inhabitants be unvaccinated,” said Dr. Howard Taras, a pediatric doctor at UC San Diego Health who helps shape the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols.  

Tara says he believes the CDC may have jumped the gun in its decision to loosen the mask requirement. 

“If you have say, one child that passes it to another who passes it to another — say that goes on for three, four or five children and all of them have either no symptoms or very few symptoms — it sounds like we really haven’t done much that’s bad. But if each of those children are with an adult that cannot be vaccinated, then we have problem.” 

He says that’s not the only concern. Every time the virus is passed from one person to another, it’s an opportunity for the virus to mutate. 

“We can be getting variants of the virus that down the road may not work with our current vaccines,” Taras said.

FOX 5 spoke with a mother who has been against masks from the start and feels they do more harm than good. 

“It’s pretty funny how all of the sudden they’re dangling a carrot in front of us,” said the woman, who declined to be identified. “Oh you get vaccinated, so you don’t have to wear a mask. So what’s next? Now we’re going to vaccinate the children? This is not OK.'”

An outspoken critic of the way the pandemic has been handled, she says she has been participating in rallies and fears the mask requirement will turn into a vaccine requirement for her child.

“It’s just scary to see that this vaccination has been out for a year, it’s still not approved by the FDA and people are OK with this being an experiment.”