By CBSLA Staff

CAMARILLO (CBSLA) — More than half a million N95 masks were delivered to the Ventura County Office of Education in Camarillo Wednesday for distribution to the county’s public and private schools.

(credit: Ventura County Office Of Education)

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Ventura County education officials say the state sent 514,562 of the surgical-grade masks to be used by students and staff. The masks will be dispersed among the county’s K-12 schools.

With the highly-transmissible Omicron variant driving up new COVID-19 infections among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people across the country, public health experts now say people should upgrade from cloth masks to medical-grade versions. N95 masks are a closer fit and provide a higher level of protection than the more common surgical mask, and filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, according to the CDC.

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“We’re grateful to the state for providing these N95 masks for students and staff who would like to use them,” the county’s Superintendent Dr. Cesar Morales said in a statement. “Anything we can do to help slow the spread of the virus will support our efforts to keep schools safely operating during the pandemic.”

Usage of the N95 masks is voluntary. They are also not intended for use by young children because of their size.

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The state’s indoor mask mandate was extended through Feb. 15, and neighboring Los Angeles County is requiring education workers to wear surgical-grade masks, Ventura County is allowing families and employees to decide what type of mask they prefer.