reopening schools

Students Return to Campuses at East Bay District Amid Mask Debate

San Ramon Valley Unified welcomes a return to in-person learning

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Students returned to campuses Tuesday at a number of Bay Area school districts, including the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, where there is an ongoing debate over an indoor mask mandate for the kids.

Last week, the school board abruptly ended its meeting in Danville when unmasked protesters yelled and refused to put on their masks or leave the meeting room.

"It was a little disheartening," said parent Laura Glover. "I'm not surprised unfortunately, but it was hard to see."

The parents group called Let Them Breathe organized the rally with the goal of getting school district to allow students to go maskless on campus. The group also is suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials to do away with the mask mandate in K-12 schools and wants school boards to pass a resolution stating that masks are not only ineffective but also harmful.

Many parents are still on the fence about having their children wear masks and some are even pulling them out of school because of it.

"It's not just having the face covered," said Danville parents Courtney Pronin. "It's also the culture of fear."

Students returned to campuses Tuesday at a number of Bay Area school districts, including the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, where there is an ongoing debate over an indoor mask mandate for the kids. Bob Redell reports.

Pronin decided to homeschool her two children after other kids chastised one of them for not wearing a mask on a playground.

"I don’t want them to be fearful of people and to think that they are causing harm to other people just by living and going to school," she explained and said she hasn't seen enough raw data to support masking mandates for young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said masks are very effective at limiting the transmission of COVID-19 and recommends wearing masks indoors regardless of one's vaccination status. Vaccinated people can still spread the delta variant, health officials said.

That risk along with the fact that children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine could put students at greater risk of becoming infected if they're not wearing masks.

School district officials explained they're trusting the scientists who advised them.

"We are doing the best, as far as county guidance goes," said Iron Horse Middle School Principal Demetrius Ball. "We're not health care providers, and we can't make that determination ourselves."

Officials also said they will try to work with families, but are clear in the decision that the mandate will stay.

"It's not going to be punitive to start, but we're going to be firm," said San Ramon Unified School District Supervisor John Malloy. "It's a requirement. It needs to happen."

Other Bay Area school districts reopening campuses Tuesday include East Side Union in San Jose, Acalanes Union in Lafayette, Castro Valley Unified, Moraga School District and Piedmont Unified.

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