‘They Can Opt Not To Return’: San Diego School Board President Speaks On Return Of Mask Mandates For Kids
kid in mask
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Mask mandates are returning to the San Diego Unified School District starting Monday, and school board president Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne makes no apologies for the move.

“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 community level according to the CDC and County data and we will communicate if there are any changes in two weeks,” the school district shared in a letter sent to students and parents.

“If your student is participating in summer school or other summer enrichment program[s], please send them to school or their program with a mask. If they do not have one, masks will be provided. Students and staff will be required to wear their masks while indoors only,” the letter continued.

Local news station KUSI News spoke with Whitehurst-Payne about the updated mandate, asking specifically what should be done if students were uncomfortable wearing masks or if parents believed the decision to mask their kids should be their own.

She dismissed the concerns, saying the kids “really should wear the mask.”

“They should just make it known that they don’t feel comfortable, and at that point, just not return [to school],” Whitehurst-Payne continued. 

She said online school or withdrawal from school are the only other choices for children who don’t want to wear masks. SDUSD originally lifted its mask mandate in April.

“For the fall, there are some options,” the school board president continued. “They can go to our school that’s online and they can opt not to return to the regular school, but go to the school where they don’t have to go to school at all other than via Zoom.”

Though the district didn’t clarify whether these rules would be in place for the fall semester, Whitehurst-Payne says the mandates would remain in effect if the community is still in the moderate tier of risk set by the CDC. 

Previously, the school board president had sung the praises of N95 masks for kids, claiming “they feel better than the others, you can talk and breathe in them.”

Other local areas are reinstating mask mandates as well, per ABC News. Naval Base Coronado and Naval Base San Diego both announced on social media that mask mandates would go into effect Monday as well. 

San Diego Comic-Con is requiring “all attendee groups, including but not limited to exhibitors, guests, staff, press, professionals, volunteers, and cosplayers…to wear an approved face covering regardless of vaccination status,” according to Deadline.

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