Big-City Public Schools, Facing a ‘Massive Hemorhagging of Students,’ Are Reimposing Mask Mandates
On Monday, the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest K-12 system in the state of California and among the top 25 in the country, reimposed an indoor masking requirement on all students and staff, in response to increased COVID-19 infections in the surrounding community.
The re-masking was triggered automatically via a district decision this past May when San Diego County on Friday crossed the threshold deemed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to indicate a “high” level of community spread—above 200 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average and above 10 percent of staffed hospital beds in use by COVID patients. The CDC’s guidance for schools and child care facilities, which San Diego adheres to, is that “universal indoor mask use is recommended at a high COVID-19 Community Level.”
According to CDC metrics as of Tuesday morning, 35 percent of U.S. counties had “high” community levels, 40 percent had “medium,” and 25 percent “low.” That does not mean 35 percent of school districts will go back to masking—far from it. According to the tracking site Burbio, school masking is banned statewide in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Utah, and as of July 18, face coverings were mandated in only 1.2 percent of districts nationwide.
But that number will surely grow with the BA.5 subvariant over the coming weeks, largely in the Democratic-controlled polities that have, since the onset of the pandemic, adopted the most restrictive school policies not just in the United States but among industrialized nations the world over. Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, will impose a blanket indoor masking requirement on July 29 if the community level remains “high,” officials said earlier this month. The University of California campuses in Los Angeles, Irvine, and Riverside have all brought back mandatory masks.
In a Monday interview with KUSI News that has gone semiviral, San Diego Unified Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said that kids and parents who don’t want to wear masks should the mandate remain in place in the fall “can go to our school that’s online, they can opt not to return to the regular school, but to go to the school where they don’t have to go to school at all other than via Zoom.” As for mask-averse summer school kids presented with the brand new requirement, “They should just make it known that they don’t feel comfortable and at that point just not return.”
The no-big-deal, rules-are-rules, take-it-or-leave-it tenor of Whitehurst-Payne’s comments are best experienced audiovisually:
“They can go to our school that’s online. They can opt not to return to the regular school, but to go to the school where they don’t have to go to school at all other than via Zoom.”
— Anthony LaMesa (@ajlamesa) July 19, 2022
As fate would have it, San Diego schools were making national news just days after all eyes were on New York City, where the Department of Education (DOE)
Article from Reason.com