San Diego’s largest school district, the second-largest in California, is requiring students to wear coronavirus masks outdoors as well as indoors on campus grounds – and at their bus stops as part of its fall reopening guidelines.
“Masks are always required indoors,” page 14 of the San Diego Unified School District’s reopening handbook reads. “Masks are now required outdoors at all times while students are on campus unless they are eating.”
On rainy days, when lunch is held indoors, students can unmask to eat but will be required to maintain social distancing “as much as possible.”
“It’s the safest way of continuing to keep kids safe and continuing to minimize the possibility that the virus could spread on a school campus,” San Diego Unified School Board President Richard Barrera told the Union-Tribune newspaper.
Students who show up without a mask will be provided one, according to the guidebook. But if they decline to submit to the district’s mask mandate, they’ll be offered virtual classes.
The school’s guidelines are stricter than county health recommendations that urge people to mask up indoors regardless of vaccine status, according to FOX 5 San Diego.
Exemptions will be made for students with “certain medical/sensory/cognitive/behavioral needs” on a case-by-case basis.
Page 16 explains that students must also mask up at their bus stops and while riding the bus to school. Drivers are only required to wear a mask if they are within six feet of the nearest passenger, and a special seat behind the driver is being set aside on each bus in case someone becomes ill on the ride to or from school.
The decision comes amid a nationwide fight over requiring children to wear masks in schools.
“Kids are the least vulnerable population, yet are struggling because of these ridiculous rules,” San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond told Fox News Thursday. “Kids have suffered greatly from increased suicide rates, behavioral health issues and a lack of education.”
Desmond has questioned the necessity of mask and vaccine mandates and of keeping students out of their classrooms for a prolonged period.
“We need to learn to live with this virus and let kids be kids,” he added Thursday. “A school district requiring more than our Public Health doctors, such as mandatory masking of kids outdoors, should not happen.”
Earlier this week, North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy, a doctor, introduced a bill that would grant schools and colleges liability protections so long as they follow reasonable, good-faith health precautions.
“As a physician of over 30 years and Ranking Member of the Higher Education and Workforce Innovation Subcommittee, there is nothing more important to me than the health and well-being of our students,” he told Fox News before unveiling the legislation. “Leading experts agree that some students may lose as much as one year’s worth of educational progress in the absence of in-person learning.”
The legislation would allow each state to set its own guidelines, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but would allow for greater local control and protection from potentially frivolous lawsuits while protecting students, staff and visitors.
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