Turlock Unified School District will hold a virtual forum for families next week following updated mask guidelines released Monday by the state, which leave decisions on face coverings up to local schools.
The announcement was a significant turnaround from previously-released guidance, which earlier had stated masks were not only mandated but that schools would be required to exclude students from campus activities if they refuse to wear one when they are not exempt. The updated guidance states that schools do not have to send students home if they refuse to wear a mask if it is not district policy.
In announcing the update, the California Department of Public Health tweeted: “California’s school guidance will be clarified regarding masking enforcement, recognizing local schools’ experience in keeping students and educators safe while ensuring schools fully reopen for in-person instruction.”
TUSD shared on social media that the district is reviewing updated K-12 guidelines and that more information will be coming soon in an updated TUSD COVID safety plan. The issue is a hot topic among parents, educators and other TUSD stakeholders, with the district’s Facebook post receiving over 80 comments on the issue.
Some told TUSD to enforce masks, while others begged for their children not to wear face coverings. TUSD’s current COVID safety plan used last school year offers alternatives for students who don’t want to wear a mask, such as face shields.
“Please let this be (the) parents' decision on this!!! We need to be smart like always — if your child is ill keep them home,” commented Michelle Patereau. “Any healthy child should not be forced to wear a mask!! Let this be our right as their parents to choose!!!”
Amy Boylan-Mendes encouraged the district to keep vaccinations in mind and stated that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is a threat.
“...It’s a highly-transmittable virus that has the potential to kill and disable,” Boylan-Mendes commented. “Please keep all that in mind while you make decisions that ultimately affect everyone in the community!”
As of Thursday, just over 39% of Stanislaus County is fully vaccinated while 49.7% have received at least one dose. In Los Angeles County and the Bay Area, public health officials have urged residents — vaccinated or not — to wear masks in indoor public places once again as the Delta variant spreads.
In order to share with families, students and educators the district’s plan for the 2021-2022 school year when it comes to COVID, TUSD is hosting a virtual forum at 5:30 p.m. July 21. To take part in the virtual forum, visit the Zoom link https://turlock-k12-ca-us.zoom.us/j/91928984572.