TEMECULA, CA — Some Temecula Valley Unified School District School families continue to push back against classroom mask mandates with the hope that their voices will force change.
Public comments at Tuesday’s school board meeting on masking issues went on for 45 minutes. Residents presented the board with notices of intent to file claims, and others shared signatures of staffers who opposed vaccine mandates.
In recent weeks, the flag-wavers and sign holders have shown support for a total lifting of mask mandates. They gather almost daily outside Temecula Middle School and Temecula Valley High School. Many have sent children to school without masks, letting the chips fall where they may.
Some Temecula Middle School families accused the school board this week of saying that the administration forced non-mask-wearing middle school students to remain outdoors during inclement weather. Stephanie Dawson, the mother of one student, said that unmasked children were not allowed inside during this week’s 50-degree weather and pouring rain.
“Is this public health or punishment for non-compliance?” she asked the board.
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Another resident and district employee, Steve Compos, presented more than 300 signatures of classified and certificated district staff members who opposed mandatory vaccination.
Masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, in California’s K-12 public schools despite last week’s lifting of the state’s universal mask mandate. Per the California Department of Public Health, masks are no longer required in indoor spaces for fully vaccinated individuals with some restrictions — including schools.
On Friday, the Biden administration also loosened federal COVID-19 mask guidance as infection rates return to pre-omicron variant levels around the country.
The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask framework categorizes counties by “low,” “medium” or “high” risk. The CDC isn’t recommending mask-wearing in the first two categories, except among people who have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk for COVID-19.
Riverside County is considered “medium risk” under the CDC guidance.
Under federal guidance, masking is only recommended for schools located in counties with a high risk of infection.
On Feb. 17, state officials announced California’s framework based on the idea that the virus will be a continuing presence. The state’s “SMARTER” plan emphasizes vaccinations and testing, along with continued education about the virus, communication with residents about conditions as they change, and vigilance for new variants that could potentially emerge and lead to new surges.
It’s unclear how the state will respond to the latest CDC update.
Patch reached out to Temecula’s school district for comment on the board meeting, and parent claims.
While no one would comment on students being left in the cold, district spokesman James Evans told Patch in an emailed statement that: “the district continues to follow the requirements of the CDPH with regard to student masking. We look forward to hearing the Governor’s updates to these requirements slated for Monday.”
Riverside County continues to follow state and federal guidelines.