As part of the new indoor mask policies, which were announced by all three Democratic governors on Monday, schoolchildren in California and Oregon will no longer have to wear masks.

The governors released a statement saying that “with declining case rates, hospitalizations throughout the West, California Oregon and Washington are moving jointly to update their masking guidelines.” The three states have more than 7.5 millions school-age children. They also had the most stringent coronavirus safety precautions during the pandemic.

Face coverings will be strongly encouraged rather than required at all indoor places in California, starting Tuesday. They will also be mandatory at schools beginning March 12. All requirements in Washington and Oregon will be lifted on March 12. All three states have now lifted all requirements.

Two years in the making, the milestone comes as much of the country eases public health regulations, including school mask mandates. This is in an attempt to restore normalcy, and boost economic recovery. These changes are a sign that the virus isn’t going away, and Americans must learn to accept it. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat announced Sunday that the state’s school masking requirements would be lifted by March 2. Similar adjustments were made by New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts recently to remove school restrictions.

These announcements mark a pivotal moment in American history, almost two years after cities across the country shut down due to COVID-19 spread. California was the first state in March 2020 to announce a shut down with stay-at home orders. Soon after, other states followed suit.

“Two decades ago today, Oregon’s first COVID-19 case was identified,” Oregon Governor. Kate Brown stated in the statement. “On the West Coast, our communities and economies have a lot in common. As we recover from the Omicron surge together, we will strengthen our resilience and be ready for the next variant or the next pandemic.

California was the first state to officially shift to an endemic approach towards the coronavirus earlier this month. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan that emphasizes prompt response to outbreaks and prevention over mandatory masking and business shut downs.

Republicans and other critics have been pressing Newsom to relax the school mandate. This has become increasingly polarizing among parents with some questioning whether it is still necessary, when other public places no longer require masks.

California Teachers Association, a powerful organization, said it expected mixed reactions to the announcement.

E. Toby Boyd, President of the CTA, stated that while some students are willing to remove their masks immediately, others remain very afraid. More than 300,000 members make up the union. “Change is not easy. Today’s announcement will disrupt and destabilize schools communities.”

In open defiance to the state mandate, a few California school districts have dropped mandates for students wearing masks in recent weeks. A survey by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley found that over 60% of California parents support wearing masks in schools.

Monday was the first day of school in Connecticut since the end of the state’s school mask mandate. Rochelle Brown, a kindergarten teacher, said that 15 of her 17 students arrived at school wearing masks. She is also still wearing a mask to class.

Brown, Poquonock Elementary School teacher in Windsor, Connecticut said, “This is their normalcy.” Many of her students have never been to school without a mask. I didn’t hear any conversation about the masks being worn by the children. They did their normal daily activities.

After Friday’s relaxation of federal mask guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the majority Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors, including schools. The federal mask mandates are still in effect in high-risk indoor environments such as public transport, airports, and taxis.

New CDC guidelines focus more on what is happening in hospitals and not on test results. According to the CDC, more than 70% of Americans live where the coronavirus is a low or moderate threat to hospitals. Therefore, masks should be removed from indoor spaces.

Since July, the CDC has recommended universal masking in schools regardless if there are any viruses in the community. However, it now recommends masks only for counties with high virus risk.

This criteria shows that 16 of Oregon’s 36 counties are at the “highest” level of transmission. Oregon’s state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said he hopes that community leaders will “guide their decisions” regarding masking.

Washington and California also have counties that are still high-risk, but officials say projections indicate that hospitalizations and case numbers will continue to decline over the next few weeks.

Washington Gov. said that “We are turning a page” in the fight against COVID virus. Jay Inslee spoke Monday at a news conference.

Inslee stated in separate statements that he expected many families and businesses to continue wearing masks. He said, “As the transition to this next stage, we will continue moving forward together carefully and prudently.”