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Students in the San Dieguito Union high School District will be required to wear masks until the state's mask mandate is lifted after March 11. Courtesy photo
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SDUHSD to enforce state’s mask mandate through March 11

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Union High School District board of trustees considered changing how it enforces the statewide mask mandate, which is set to expire after March 11, but the school board was unable to approve a new policy.

Trustee Michael Allman presented a resolution that would change the current enforcement policy to allow for students who do not comply with the mandate to remain in the classroom without a mask.

The current district enforcement policy calls for students not wearing masks in the classroom to be offered a mask. If they refuse, the students are removed from the classroom and sent to the front office where the next steps will be discussed with the students’ parents.

According to the full policy, further refusal to wear a mask will result in removal from campus.

“Upon agreeing to comply with the requirements set forth in this regulation, the student will be allowed to return to in-person learning as soon as reasonably practicable, and in no event later than five school days,” the policy states.

According to Allman, his resolution was not meant to ignore the mandate but instead simply change how it is enforced.

“It is our responsibility to figure out how we’re going to enforce this mandate,” Allman said. “We have excluded students from school but if they don’t want to leave campus we can’t make them leave. If they want to come back the next day, we can’t stop them from coming without wearing a mask.”

Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward noted that she and her staff possess administrative credentials, and as stewards of the State of California, they must follow state law. James-Ward said she wanted to join the discussion out of fear of teachers and administrators losing their credentials.

“That being said, according to the state of California we must follow the laws of the state. We recognize that we have 11 days left and we recognize that it has been difficult for members of our community to make it through this,” James-Ward said. “We also recognize that for other members of the community they have been thankful because they do have kids who are immunocompromised and we also have staff. We just have to follow the law.”

With Trustee Julie Bronstein absent from the meeting, the resolution failed with a 2-2 vote with Trustee Melisse Mossy, who has been publicly against the state mandate, voting no.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen. I cannot break the law just as a moral and ethical compass so I cannot recommend that we break any laws,” Mossy said.

Allman contends the resolution did not break the law.

“Everybody breaks the law every day. We have way too many laws. I jaywalked across the street the other day, that’s against the law. The question is how do we enforce it,” Allman said.

Allman also insinuated during his presentation of the resolution that masks have been shown to not be effective against the spread of COVID-19 but the CDC released a new study last month confirming the efficacy of masking, especially the use of N95 or KN95 masks.

“The point of the matter is that any mask worn is better than no mask,” Trustee Katrina Young said. “While the district does possess local authority to determine the means by which we properly enforce masking policies, we do not have the authority to determine if we should or should not enforce masking.”

As of now, students in SDUHSD will continue to be required to wear masks and face being removed from campus should they refuse to do so until the mandate is lifted after March 11.