A recently formed advocacy group is holding a rally to protest potential mask and vaccine requirements in local schools, but education officials say those guidelines are mandated by the state.
On July 16, Moms for Liberty SLO County plans to host a rally at the SLO County Public Health Department from 9 to 10:30 a.m., where they'll voice support for "mask and vaccine choice" in local schools during the upcoming school year.
Moms for Liberty, according to its website, is a national organization that was founded by several moms in Florida in an attempt to prevent what it calls "government overreach and intimidation tactics" in schools. In March, a few moms launched a SLO County chapter of Moms for Liberty to push for the full reopening of schools without masks, physical distancing, and vaccine requirements. Its Facebook group now has more than 800 members.
- FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
- ANTI-MASK On July 16, Moms for Liberty SLO County plans to host a rally at the SLO County Public Health Department from 9 to 10:30 a.m., where they’ll voice support for “mask and vaccine choice” in local schools during the upcoming school year.
"We're just not willing to mask up our kids," Moms for Liberty member and SLO County resident Jenifer Narragon said.
Narragon recently joined Moms for Liberty, but she said she has long worried about the potential for COVID-19 safety regulations in schools to do further damage to her two high school students, who she said already struggled emotionally after a year of isolation and distance learning. She doesn't plan to get her kids vaccinated, and Narragon said she worries her children will be treated differently or have to adhere to different rules than students who are vaccinated.
"At the end of the day, I feel like as parents we should have a choice with all of this," Narragon said.
But James Brescia, superintendent of the SLO County Office of Education, said all public, private, and parochial schools will be required to follow state guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 safety.
On July 12, the California Department of Public Health released guidance outlining the strategies local schools will use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
While physical distancing will no longer be required in California's K-12 schools, students will still have to wear masks while indoors next fall, according to the guidance. Adults will be required to wear masks only when sharing indoor spaces with students, and schools will also be required to develop and implement protocols to enforce mask requirements.
While the guidance does not say whether students and teachers will be required to get vaccinated to attend schools, it does outline differing quarantine processes for those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.
"This guidance is a public health directive that applies to all public and private schools operating in California," Brescia wrote in a message to New Times. "Under operative executive orders and provisions of the California Health and Safety Code, schools must comply with orders and guidance issue by the California Department of Public Health and relevant four local health departments to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health."