Striving for maximal safety and protection of students, the Orange County Board of Education voted to pursue a legal challenge to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s school mask mandate on Aug. 3.
On July 9, Newsom confirmed that K-12 students of all schools in OC will need to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, during the upcoming school year. With students in school for at least six hours every day, 28 Orange County school districts were against the implementation of mandatory face masks. The board voted 4-0 in favor of eliminating the mask mandate, as they claim the requirement brings further harm to students’ mental and physical health.
Part of the Board of Education’s role is to recognize and learn the new policies in order to distinguish their effects on students, the board said. “When necessary, the Board will fight to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our county’s kids at school.”
On the contrary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics argue that masks are vital for protection. Dr. Dan Cooper, University of California Irvine researcher, states children are still at risk and susceptible to COVID-19.
In Fullerton, students at Troy High School have started their first two weeks of school with set health guidelines. Students must enter the school through thermal cameras placed at the front gates and submit a Qualtrics COVID Safety Survey daily. All students and school staff members are required to wear masks in classrooms and hallways for further protection.
Excited for the new school year, Principal Dr. Will Mynster expresses his enthusiasm for normal, in-person learning through his weekly letters to the school. “It has been a very good start to the year, with lots of energetic students and teachers and staff [who] are thrilled to see their students again,” Mynster said.
Firmly strengthening the mask mandate, Mynster stresses the importance of vaccines and encourages all students to receive them if possible. “We are all in this together, and each of us has the duty to collectively help our fellow man, especially those that do not have the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The majority of students believe masks are important and should remain to prevent further spread of the pandemic. “There are people who are not vaccinated, and the masks are worn to protect them,” junior Ashmita Bhowmik said. “It is just about being considerate for your community until these people are able to get vaccinated.”
Similar to the past lawsuit to reopen schools for in-person learning in fall 2020, the Supreme Court of California rejected the OC Board of Education’s lawsuit on Aug. 19. The rejection of the petition allowed Newsom’s mask mandate to continue to be in effect for all students.
Erin Jang, Grade 11
Troy High School