San Luis Coastal Unified School District held a special board of trustees meeting Thursday about COVID-19 safety mitigation measures.
The zoom-only meeting started at 3 p.m. and wrapped up around 6 p.m.
The afternoon started with a presentation on COVID-19 data and protocols followed by public comment.
Some parents said there needs to be mask choice like Paso Robles Joint Unified School District while others said they want the masking to remain in place for all students.
This petition is circulating among San Luis Coastal Unified parents urging the school district to make masking the decision of parents.
“My hope is that as soon as possible, as early as today, San Luis Coastal makes masking optional for our children,” said parent, Corrin LePell of San Luis Obispo.
LePell started the change.org petition that’s garnered more than 585 signatures.
“What we're seeing as parents is that our kids are suffering,” LePell explained. “They're suffering developmentally. They're suffering learning-wise. They also have social and emotional problems. We're seeing anxiety and depression in our kids and we've never had these issues before.”
During the presentation, the school district pointed to the effectiveness of masks. They also brought up the risk of liability coverage.
“As we are looking at masking, as we are looking at the current mandate, we do have to keep this coverage,” said Diane Frost, San Luis Coastal Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.
Meanwhile, in a 5 to 2 vote, Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees implemented mask choice for students during a meeting on Tuesday evening, effective immediately.
Some parents are hopeful the San Luis Coastal Board of Trustees will follow suit.
“I certainly urge the school board to really listen to parents and get rid of this mandate now,” said parent, Nicole Dorfman of Morro Bay. “Allow people who want to wear it, of course, to wear it and then free the rest of us.”
No action was taken during Thursday’s meeting. Instead, a decision can be expected during the March 15 regular board meeting.
Board member, Eve Dobler-Drew said the goal is what’s best for the students. She said she’s been in contact with Roseville California School Board who went to mask optional and has the most coverage about it but she was quickly cut off.
“I received a list from that school board of all the schools' districts that have dropped the mandate,” Dobler-Drew explained. “In California, there are 22 school districts so far that have dropped, have made it, masks optional.”
“Eve, Eve, Eve, I know this is important to you,” interrupted Board of Trustees President, Chris Ungar. “But I do want to remind you that we have many people who wish to address the board. Also, I just want to remind you, according to what Diane said we will be having…”
“Why are you blocking her?” questioned a participant on the Zoom call.
She was able to continue saying Roseville’s Insurance has not been taken away. She added that there are appointed unelected authorities and consultants giving reasons why students should wear masks in schools but she disagrees.
“I am firmly in favor of making masks optional in our district now,” Dobler-Drew said. “Those who want to can be protected. Those who don't feel the fear, don’t have to wear them. That's what I feel is best for our children and I will die on that hill.”
Some parents that want masking to stay as is, also participated in public comment.
The San Luis Coastal Unified Board of Trustees will have a regular meeting on March 1 to discuss COVID mitigation efforts but a decision will not be made at that meeting, either.
On Monday, the State of California is set to update its masking requirements for students.
According to San Luis Obispo County data, 92% of San Luis Coastal staff are vaccinated.