In last week’s Clovis Unified Governing School Board’s emergency meeting, the school board declared that the district would no longer remove students from classrooms for being unmasked.
A week later, the state of California ruled that they would no longer require masks to be worn in the classroom by students or teachers as of March 12. A move, according to parents and district board members alike, felt unexpected.
“When the governor came out that Friday before [the board decision] and didn’t say a date-and given the history of his record the last two years of pushing things down and down…it gave me little hope for anything happening in the near future. And I personally felt like we couldn’t wait.” said newly elected board President Tiffany Madsen in response to two members of the community who spoke out against the board’s ruling.
The two community members called the ruling “asinine,” “foolish”, and “confusing.” Stating that the board should have waited for vaccination status to be higher in the county before making their decision and asked what the board was teaching the children with this decision.
They then went on to say that the board “broke the law” two weeks early just to “be able to say” that they did.
CUSD Board member Dr. Stephen Fogg addressed one point that was voiced, the choice of those who will continue to wear masks despite the new resolutions. Fogg worries that there will be tension in schools between students who don’t understand the point of view of those still choosing to wear face masks.
“I certainly don’t want this to be reversed where people are questioning, ‘Well why are you wearing a mask?’ Because sometimes it might be something that’s none of their business,” Fogg said. He then went on to illustrate that whenever somebody may look different, people, especially younger students, “have the tendency to ask ‘Why?’”
Dr. Corrine Folmer, associate superintendent of school leadership, asserted that the teachers across the school district are “really good about differences.”
“There are lots of different things in teaching our students how to be respectful of each other and have an understanding of each other,” Folmer said.
Fogg brought to the table the issue of a possible vaccination mandate within the district. He declared to the board that they need to have a plan for students who are not vaccinated.
“If [students] choose not to have the vaccination, we’re not going to eliminate the in-class opportunity for them,” Fogg said.
Vaccination status has been on the monitors of parents at board meetings, saying that they would rather pull their children out of Clovis Unified instead of allowing their children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fogg expressed his belief that in terms of a negative reaction to the possible vaccine mandate for students to be allowed in the classroom “will be a very large, loud group.” He then continued on presenting his case to the COVID workgroup, formed on February 2, saying that they needed to address this issue now.
“I think we as a board need to start doing that now and come up with a resolution that says we’re not gonna close our schools because of your vaccination status,” Fogg said.
COVID-19 workgroup leader and school board Vice President David DeFrank pronounced that the issue of vaccination status will be put on their agenda and reported on at the next school board meeting on March 16.