Parents, students, teachers react to California school mask mandate

Local News

RIO LINDA, Calif. (KTXL) – Just one day after state health officials released new rules that would have required schools to send unmasked kids home, they now say that decision is in the hands of local school districts.

The shift follows a wave of criticism against the new guidance at a time when Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election.

Educators will ultimately be the ones enforcing the mask policy in the classroom and some say it puts them in an unfair spot when they’d rather focus their time and energy on teaching.

When California classrooms welcome back students this fall, face masks will be mandatory 

“It would be hard to wear a mask and not be able to take it off for seven hours. That would be very hard. The school day feels very long,” said student Zachary Walsh.

“I really don’t like it because it gets very hot for us and we don’t want anyone to faint or anything,” said student Skylie Khimlek.

While most kids would prefer not covering their nose and mouth all day, they’ll take a masked class any day over a Zoom class.

“At least we get to go to school,” said Walsh.

Many teachers are also excited to see their students in person but are worried about how they will enforce the new mask mandate.

“It’s one thing if you’re teaching all day and trying to do a lot of things at once, adding worrying about the masks is just another layer for teachers to worry about,” said Grant High School teacher Tangie Crates.

On Monday, state health officials released new rules that would have required schools to send unmasked kids home but after some pushback, they now say it’s up to the local school districts leaving educators little time to draft a plan. 

“I think the state should offer some more guidance. They kind of said, ‘Here’s what you got to do, figure it out to do it, and school starts in a few weeks, go,’” Crates said.

Parents are also concerned about the confusion.

“These are our children. We want them safe. We want nothing to happen to them,” said parent Sokny Brassard.

With some feeling safer for classrooms to mask up when keeping a 3-foot distance as the CDC has asked isn’t possible.

“Our kids have a minimum of 30 students per class and it’s hard to social distance until they’re vaccinated from COVID-19, so masks are important,” said parent Brian Brassard.

But for other parents like Stefanie Walsh, she says kids have been through enough during the pandemic.

“I think you have to weigh their emotional well-being and their health, physical and emotional. They’re both equally important. I think a lot of people are forgetting that their mental health is just as important,” Walsh said.

She hopes schools can drop the masks for good.

“I would really love for kids to be able to be kids again and not have to worry about all this. It’s too much for them,” Walsh said.

Districts now have to scramble to come up with a plan and get it approved by the school board.

At Twin Rivers, officials told FOX40 they’re hoping to have something passed by early August, just a couple of weeks before the start of school.

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