Parents and grandparents with children at Atascadero Middle School are still divided on whether mask mandates should remain at schools.
“It’s comfortable if it’s inside the school, we don’t know if all the kids are vaccinated,” said Emerita O’Connor, a mother who prefers her children to wear masks while indoors.
“We can’t even see a person’s face if they’re masked that messes with their social development as well as their education,” said Dave Terry, who is the grandfather of an Atascadero Middle School student.
“I think that everyone should just respect and if people want to wear masks, let them wear masks and if they don’t want to, that is their decision,” said Linda Spencer, who has a granddaughter that studies at Atascadero Middle School.
Multiple heated exchanges took place during the Atascadero Unified School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 1.
"Call your legislators, call your governor, make your voices heard where it is going to matter,” said Terri Switzer, a school board member of the Atascadero Unified School District.
At the meeting, parents accused school officials of allegedly mistreating their kids for not wearing masks.
School board member Ray Buban was shocked and said he was under the impression that superintendent Tom Butler was handling the situation. The following comment stirred more fuel by comparing this to segregation.
“Your children are no longer being segregated, disrespected, and treated like third-class citizens or someone who should be sitting in the back of the bus or not being allowed to sit in the lunch counter,” responded Buban during Tuesday’s meeting.
School Board Member Terri Switzer also made remarks that upset some in attendance.
“I was denied access into Sierra Vista Hospital yesterday to see a family member who will probably never see sunshine again because like the Holocaust I couldn’t prove if I was a German or a Jew, oh I mean my vaccine status,” said Switzer during Tuesday’s meeting.
Following the meeting, students launched a Change.org petition to “urge the recall or resignation of board members Ray Buban and Terri Switzer."
On Instagram, the anonymous student-run account AHS Do Better is calling out these board members asking Buban to not compare segregated African Americans with anti-mask protesters. In a social media post, they said “wearing a mask is a choice. Being black is not.”
“It's probably not the place but you can’t just eliminate somebody just because they said something you don’t like,” said Terry about the comments made by board members.
“My thoughts are that you can’t compare COVID-19 with stuff like that, it is a whole different era that we are in, so let’s just take care of what we can take care of and don’t bring in other issues into it,” added Spencer.
KSBY News reached out to both Atascadero School Board Members mentioned in the petition and the District’s Superintendent, but they have not issued a response at the time of this publication.
The mask mandate at schools and childcare settings issued by the California Department of Public Health ends on March 11, 2022.