Schools Say They’re Caught ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’ As Anti-Mask Protests Grow

As students’ and parents’ frustration on masks grows louder, schools take the heat for enforcing state’s mask mandate

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Some San Diego County school district leaders are pleading for help as they bear the brunt of families’ discontent over the state’s indoor school mask mandate, which at this point has no expiration date.

Scores of San Diego County students, many who are not yet teenagers, are protesting the mandate by refusing to wear masks in class. The protests have garnered more attention in the past few days, ever since state officials announced at a press conference last Monday that they are not lifting the state’s indoor school mask mandate yet.

State leaders say they will reassess state COVID data on Feb. 28 but have suggested they won’t lift the school mask mandate until sometime after that date.

Families who don’t agree with masks have run out of patience with the school mandate as they watched California officials lift its mask mandate for virtually all other sectors of public life last week and as a growing number of states have lifted their school mask mandates.

Several of the student protests are happening in North County, where the parent-led, anti-mask Let Them Breathe movement began and where superintendents have complained about the state throwing down blanket COVID mandates on schools.

“I’m just really sick of all the masks,” Addy Spangler, 12, who refused to wear a mask at her school, Aviara Oaks Middle School in Carlsbad Unified, said on Sunday. “If (Gov. Gavin) Newsom doesn’t have to wear a mask, I don’t see why we have to.”

To follow the state’s mask mandate, schools are excluding students who refuse to wear masks from classrooms and having them wait in an outdoor location on campus until their parents pick them up. The practice has prompted complaints from parents who say their children are being denied instruction after exercising their right to free speech.

“I don’t want my child segregated,” said parent Wendy Griffin, on Sunday. Her 9-year-old daughter Emily refused to wear a mask at Kelly Elementary in Carlsbad Unified. “I don’t think that that’s right. It’s bizarre to me that we’re living in a land of segregation.”

But according to some local school leaders, the families’ anger is misplaced, because schools are required to enforce the mask mandate on the state’s behalf, even though several school leaders are unhappy with how the state has been handling COVID school mandates.

The superintendents of several local districts, including Poway Unified, Carlsbad Unified, San Marcos Unified and Alpine Union, said they are disappointed the state has not yet released a timeline for easing the school mask mandate. Districts in other parts of the county, notably San Diego Unified and South County school districts, have been much more likely to embrace COVID safety measures such as masking and vaccine mandates.

In a letter to state leaders on Friday, Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps shared frustration that state officials have placed the burden of mask enforcement on educators. She said educators are exhausted after two years of surviving distance learning, keeping up with COVID safety measures, following the state’s frequently changing school COVID rules and enduring anger and harassment from parents about masks, school closures and other COVID measures.

“Our already-taxed teachers and administrators should not and cannot be the mask police. Students should not and cannot be excluded from their education,” Kim-Phelps wrote. “The angst and conflict over masks have become an extreme distraction at our schools.”

Superintendent Ben Churchill of Carlsbad Unified said in an email on Sunday that there’s a misconception that school districts have the ability to defy the state’s mask mandate, and school staff have been put in “a very difficult position” because they face significant risks if they don’t enforce it.

“Our teachers, principals and staff are between a rock and a hard place. They just want to teach … They don’t want to fight battles about statewide mandates,” Churchill said. “But … they’re the ones asked to enforce the rules and they are far more accessible than any of the statewide decision-makers.”

Click here to read the full article at the SD Union Tribune

Comments

  1. Using a cloth mask to filter out a micron size covid spore is about as effective as keeping out mosquitoes with a chain link fence!

  2. Philip Gallanders says

    The school mask mandate, is the result of the financial blackmail from the C.T.A. and other union big money political donors.

    It isn’t about science.
    It isn’t about health.

    It is about politicians being bought.

    The big money union donors are more important to our elected representatives than the folks who elected them

  3. Schools face “significant risks if they don’t enforce it.”
    What are the risks?

  4. Mask mandates have nothing to with a virus.

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