Parents again voice anger over school mask mandate
Following news that students will still be required to wear masks in schools as the state mandate ends, members of the community again voiced their outrage during a roughly 30-minute public comment session at Wednesday’s Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board meeting.
Despite many stating the district should defy the state’s plans to wait until the end of a month before deciding whether to change rules on masking in schools, district officials say they will continue to follow directives from the state.
Parents and other members of the community have continuously voiced frustration over mask mandates for several months, eventually leading to tense board meetings, requested police presence, and ultimately, a suspension of in-person programs.
“I appreciate that we have patriots, that we have people who are expressing and practicing their rights, but you know, a couple of weeks ago we’re walking out of meetings and people are yelling at us that we’re killing their children because they’re masking up,” said Board Member Cris Hennessey during Wednesday’s meeting. “I just don’t understand, instead of coming together and realizing that whether everyone is in agreement or not that we are following what we know we need to follow, and that we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think we needed to do it. And we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it aligned with our district beliefs, which is to take care of the very children that people are also trying to protect by expressing what they’re expressing.”
Parents and others at Wednesday’s meeting claimed mask rules have caused fractures between students and teachers, have affected student mental health, and are a violation of student rights.
Not all districts are following state guidelines. Nearby, the Roseville Joint Union High School District this week has made masking in school optional for students, regardless of vaccination status.
“Mask policies have shown no positive outcome on our campuses, result in constant disruption, division and behavior problems and have no long-term safety studies … In light of many other states and countries ending mask mandates in the absence of evidence supporting them, (Roseville Joint Union High School District) no longer feels safe implementing a policy with no proven safety benchmarks,” that district states in a resolution released Feb. 10. “The board believes that the governor’s K-12 student mask mandate is ill advised and in opposition to the educational and social-emotional goals of the state and the district.”
State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in an announcement Monday that a change would not be made to the state’s school mask mandate at that time, and that his department would reassess on Feb. 28 whether there should be a change to the rule, the Associated Press reported.
Parents also voiced concern about an October announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom regarding plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person in 2022-23.
“I want to encourage parents who are truly concerned about the vaccine … jump on it right now,” said Hennessey. “Deal with your state leadership right now because they are going to be talking about it, they are talking about it. That is not something that we will not be able to sidestep if it comes down the pipe. So, if that’s a concern of yours, take that energy to the right place.”
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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