During the meeting’s section for public comment, teachers, parents, and other community members voiced their perspectives on what a mask means to them. Though expressing sympathy for worried individuals, the Board ultimately voted unanimously 5-0 to enact the new proposed mask guidance, which, beginning March 12th, will only “strongly recommend” that students and staff wear masks, therefore leaving the decision to mask up to each individual.
According to Edith Salvatore, President of Sequoia District Teachers Association, the Teacher’s Union’s contract with the School Board does not contain any language addressing masks. At Wednesday’s meeting, the Teacher’s Union did not take a stance on the new mask guidance, though it made a plea for clear communication regarding masking. Here is what Salvatore had to say at the Board meeting:
Nonetheless, some teachers expressed their concern about their health and safety should they be required to teach classrooms of unmasked students. Listen to what a teacher at Sequoia High School, Greg Schmid, said about the new mask guidance:
A recurring theme in the Board meeting was “following the science,” a phrase both sides used repeatedly to back their opinion. District parent Sateez Kadivar, who was in support of repealing the mask mandate even without a recommendation and was also an organizer of last year’s rally to reopen schools in SUHSD, argued that the science indicates that COVID-19 is a “flu-like risk to unvaccinated children” and that masking is not scientifically supported. Listen to Kadivar’s perspective here:
Sequoia Aspirations Advocate Program Coordinator Jenna Carson was also in favor of de-masking. She expressed her concerns about the students who “are literally hiding behind their masks and their hoods.” She concluded, “We need to start unmasking this spring so that we can support those that are nervous and gradually continue our return to smiles.” Listen to Carson’s speech here:
Like Schmid, some students expressed concerns about their safety and the safety of their at-risk loved ones once the mask mandate was repealed. Students came up to Student Trustees, seniors Isabelle Stid and Carlos Osuna, to tell their stories. Listen to an anecdote from Osuna’s encounter with a student: