The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees met Tuesday night to discuss a couple of controversial topics going into the school year.
With school starting in just over a week, the district needed to make a decision on how they would go about handling sensitive topics like critical race theory and mask-wearing in classrooms this year. The superintendent says they came up with solutions to both issues but not everyone agrees with the new rules.
Superintendent Curt Dubost said Tuesday night's meeting was a time for both sides to be heard and for the board to debate and come to a decision.
"There's a whole lot going on. I've been doing this for over 40 years and this is the most contested, difficult time I have faced with everything else going on," Dubost said.
The school board meeting dealt with the topic of critical race theory in schools. Dubost says three different solutions were proposed and they came to an agreement.
"There will be no specific inclusion of critical race theory nor its basic tenants in our curriculum. However, if it comes up, it will be treated as a controversial issue. Teachers are not precluded from talking about it at all but they have to present a balanced approach to it and make sure that they point out the fallacies, in the opinion of the board members, and the resolution in some elements of critical race theory," Dubost said.
Mask-wearing is another topic they discussed. All students and staff K-12 must wear masks indoors due to a statewide government mandate in California. Some individuals in the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District disagree with the mandate but are powerless to stop it from going into effect this school year.
"My personal preference had been that it be optional. Our guidance throughout and our direction from the school board was that we would abide by any mandates but if it was just guidance or recommendations that we would err on the side of parental choice. That was recently taken out of our purview by it being mandated," Dubost said.
If the district does not follow the government mask mandate, they could lose their insurance coverage for liability, making them responsible if a child gets sick at school.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the reason for this mandate is to ensure all students have access to safe, in-person instruction.