With the passage of the School Safety and Security Act of 2000, California law now requires all students, teachers, and school personnel to wear a face mask at all times when on school property (effective September 1, 2001). This applies to both public and private schools. However, the law does not cover private schools that have “permanent facilities.”

In the past year, the San Bernardino school board has levied a new policy that prohibits students from wearing masks during school dances and other events. The new rule is worrisome, especially considering the recent outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.

The AUSD School Board just voted in 4 new Board Members, 2 from each board district. First up, Victor Flores (District 1) and Janeth Marquez (District 6) were elected to the board.

Parents are overwhelmingly in favor of “freeing our children.”

ATASCADERO — ATASCADERO — ATASCADERO — On Thursday, July 22, at 11 a.m., the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) conducted a special School Board of Trustees meeting. 

The meeting’s goal was to provide information about the existing limitations that would be imposed on students who want to return to traditional education next month. In addition to in-person audience members and letters sent in by parents, public feedback was received in the form of in-person audience members and letters sent in by parents.

The oath of allegiance and a minute of silence kicked off the open session. Following that, board President George Shoemaker said that there was no information to disclose from closed session. He then went on to describe the meeting’s objective, which was to deliver an informative item and allow for public comment. The board decided 7-0 to go forward with oral communications.

We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero

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Superintendent Tom Butler next delivered his report, praising the summer school program and reporting on the “good progress” being made on both the B building removal and the tennis courts.

The Trustees voted 7-0 to accept the minutes from the June 29 meeting and then proceeded on to administrative matters, including the modification of the AUSD plan for school reopening in response to COVID-19.

Superintendent Butler emphasized that today’s meeting was just for informational purposes, and that in a future board meeting, “the board will need to consider voting and approving a plan exactly like the one that’s here today” prior to the start of school.

“One of the things I’ve been emphasizing is that the trustees…and our staff—we’re the educational agency for this district, and our backgrounds are in education,” Butler said. Clearly, we aren’t the local health department. I’d want to make sure there’s some clarification… The California Department of Public Health, which is responsible for the health of our state’s people, will then branch out into county departments of public health. It’s from there that you hear the mask’s mandates.”

Butler then reminded the audience that AUSD is also an employer, which requires adherence to CalOSHA regulations. He also notified the public that the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Department of Public Health has re-enforced the mask requirement, which requires all children and employees in a school environment to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. This is true for both public and private schools. In an outside environment, such as before school, lunch, recess, passing periods, sports, and after-school events, masks will be optional.

Butler said that vaccinations are not needed for kids and employees at this time, and that the district does not collect vaccination records. He then added a proviso, stating that a San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health worker may approach someone and inquire about their vaccination status if they are actively engaged in contact tracing.

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“Now it’s up to that person whether or not they want to reveal it,” Butler added. “That is their own business, but in a contact tracing situation, you might hear individuals being questioned about it.”

Butler added, “To establish the tone for the school year, we’re going to be completely open—a full school day, full class size… All extracurricular and co-curricular activities will resume in full force, and we are delighted to welcome them back.”

Butler then urged residents to talk to the SLO County Department of Public Health, County Supervisors, and Elected State Officials about their thoughts and views. He said that the trustees are debating a resolution that may be presented at the next board meeting, in which the board would issue a public statement to a board of public authorities. The resolution would argue that SLO County’s health indicators, rather than state-wide data, should be used to open our schools safely.

Ray Buban, a trustee, raised the subject of lawsuit protection. Butler replied by citing legal counsel’s recommendation to follow the rules set out by the public health department. “If we follow the basic health standards set by health experts, we will be less likely to be sued if anything goes wrong.”

Mary Kay Mills, a trustee, then inquired about the newly published state guidelines, which seemed to imply that each district would have the choice of requiring masks or not.

Butler described this as “very false information, to be honest.” In a K-12 school environment, the masks are still necessary. The degree of local authority that the districts have is in enforcing it… Is it going to be a problem for the students? Are there any processes in place? How will we connect with parents if they send their children to school without wearing a mask?”

Butler proposed a “caring” strategy in which parents would be contacted and offered alternatives such as remote learning, independent study, and homeschooling.

Trustee Mills pressed further, asking, “so like myself, if Cayden doesn’t attend school this year because she’s required to wear a mask, then is ACE Academy an option?” Butler affirmed that virtual learning would be an option in this case.

“Should we start with the mask mandate, and then as time goes on…they remove the mask mandate?” asked Trustee Corrinne Kuhnle. “If you are a parent who has enrolled your child in the virtual program, or ACE Academy, how difficult would it be for them to return to the classroom after they’ve started?”

Butler replied, “It won’t be tough for our parents.” “It may take a little shifting, but we want to be as responsive as possible at that time. We’d want to do it in a timely manner so that we may respond quickly.”

Trustee Buban then reminded parents that a doctor may give a letter of exemption from the mask requirement for kids on Page 9, number E of the plan.

“What are the repercussions to the district, apart from litigation, if we don’t obey the mask mandate?” Buban continued.

“There are certain financing sources that are conditional on following the rules and having a board-approved plan,” Butler said. and some of them are worth millions of dollars, so they would be at danger of being lost.”

Stacey Phillips, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, then read aloud the board’s communications, all of which related to the mask requirement. Nine letters were read aloud. Seven of the letters were in support of mask requirements, while two were in favor of allowing all families to choose their own masks.

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Finally, audience members talked on the mask requirement. Fourteen people stepped out, all of whom favored personal choice when it came to masks. The importance of following science and data rather than government regulation, the negative impact of masks on children’s physical and mental health, big tech’s censorship of accurate and pertinent information, and a conflict of interest in the source of funding for one of the policy-making agencies were among the major themes.

Pfizer funds the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). That’s all there is to know about it. Every choice you make today, just like the AAP, is based on money. We’ve just heard about the money thus far. When will you begin to be concerned about the children’s well-being?” Jennifer Grainger, Chair of Moms4Liberty’s SLO Chapter, agreed. “We are certain that they are not at danger of contracting COVID. “You’re advocating creating other diseases in children, causing lifelong mental health problems in children over a 0.0003 mortality rate in children.”

The emergence of practical ideas suggested by audience members was perhaps the most encouraging thing for parents dealing with a dearth of educational choices. Parents have put up tutoring trailers to help homeschooling families, and Moms4Liberty is working on a mask-free full-time school for the autumn. Grainger claims that they have found financial sources, instructors, and churches ready to assist make this a reality because they “no longer want to participate in the abuse.”

Parent Kim Paul’s appeal to “let our kids free” probably best summed up the mood of the public response.

The meeting was adjourned after all public comments had been heard. The next AUSD Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

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There seems to be a new controversy in Monterey County recently, one that involves the wearing of masks at public school campuses. The issue stems from claims that some students wear masks to conceal their identities from teachers, peers, and administrators. Some wear them out of fashion, others because they claim it helps them stay safe from bullying.. Read more about alvord unified school district schools and let us know what you think.

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