Despite California’s announcement of an end to the use of facemasks in enclosed places such as bars and restaurants, parents across the state are increasingly frustrated that the rule’s lifting for schools continues to be delayed.
On Monday, Feb. 14, during a virtual press conference, California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state set Feb. 28 as the date to consider lifting the mask requirement in K-12 settings.
“The message today, which I hope is clear, is today a change isn’t being made,” Ghaly said, as noted by Fox News.
The new regulations, which went into effect on Wednesday, Feb. 16, only apply to vaccinated individuals, as the unvaccinated will be required to remain masked in all indoor spaces.
However, regardless of vaccination status, masks must still be worn by all persons in various settings throughout the state, such as health care facilities, public transportation, airports, child care centers, among others, the California Department of Public Health said.
Parents and educators allege social and emotional harm from the use of facemasks, so while most children continue to comply with the mandate in California schools, many parents are now openly encouraging some to defy the rule.
The question they are asking is why children should continue to wear the masks with the detriments they bring to their physical and emotional well-being when the state has a marked decrease in the number of cases, in addition to a steady increase in the vaccination rate.
Dr. Ghaly himself said Monday that COVID-19 cases in California are down more than 75% from a month ago, but he maintained that the state was not yet ready to make school masking optional.
Teacher’s unions have welcomed the school masking announcements, but Ghaly declined to answer whether they influenced the state’s decision at the press conference.
Also Tuesday, several Northern California high school students walked out of class to protest the refusal to relax the mandate in schools.
The widespread frustration of parents and students also caused some officials to break away from the state directive and make their own decisions.
The school board of the Roseville Union High School District, in a Sacramento suburb, is a case in point, as it decided by unanimous vote to implement a facemask-optional policy, according to Fox News.
While in the Corona Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, an outdoor area has been set up where students who choose not to wear masks can remain to do schoolwork.
Meanwhile, El Dorado Union High School District sent a letter notifying parents that it would be changing its masking enforcement protocols.
“The enforcement of masking will be done by educating students and asking them to mask but no further actions of exclusion from class will be taken,” the district said. “Moving forward students will not be physically removed from the classroom or receive a discipline consequence to prevent further exclusionary learning loss.”