In recent days, high school students in Oakdale, California, have refused to wear masks to classes, rejecting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide mask mandate. As a result, hundreds of students have been banned from attending regular class.
The protests are part of a coordinated “Let Them Breathe” effort pushed by Oakdale parents and students.
On Wednesday alone, 375 Oakdale Joint Unified students refused to wear masks, while parents protested the mask mandate outside schools.
Multiple videos have circulated on social media showing students protesting outside schools, with some claiming that students who refused to wear masks were sent to a school gymnasium.
“Oakdale CA students throughout the district are refusing to wear masks. High schoolers have been sent to the gym and filled it with more unmasked students on their way,” tweeted an account called Let Them Breathe, which says it supports “students who unmask by raising awareness and with legal action.”
“These kids are following the governor’s example and we are here to legally support their rights,” the account added, in an apparent jab at Newsom’s recent failure to keep his mask on during the NFC championship game in Inglewood.
During the matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, Newsom was photographed maskless with L.A. Lakers legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
“Our own governor doesn’t follow these rules, so why should our children have to be wearing a mask?” Jennifer Henry, an Oakdale parent, asked. “He’s at this football game with all these people.”
According to Jennifer Poth, after her 8-year-old son failed to wear a mask, he was then forced to study outside in 43-degree weather.
“They called me to ask me to pick him up, and I refused. I said, ‘No. It is your job to educate my son, and he has every right to be there,'” Poth said. “They forced him to go outside in 43-degree weather and sit there and try to do schoolwork.”
Superintendent Dave Kline described this decision as a “mistake.”
“That was a miscalculation on my part, and I took responsibility for that,” Kline said. “I apologize to both parents that that took place. That is not how we want to treat our students. We still want to be respectful.”
Current California Department of Public Health orders require students to wear masks in schools.
“Universal masking reduces the risk of outbreaks, thereby avoiding disruptions to school operations, including closure,” the state health department announced in August 2021. “Furthermore, masks empower schools to implement more targeted quarantine procedures, often eliminating the need for students to miss any instructional time.”
“They’re very upset with the mask mandate,” Kline said. “They want to see that going away.” Superintendent Kline also said that those protesting were creating a “difficult” situation for school officials.
“I respect their right to protest. However, we’re under a state mandate and the state mandate carries the force of law,” Kline added.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.