As an indoor mask mandate was reinstated, a California school board president had a fairly simple message to enrolled students opposed to the measure – they should “just not return.”
Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne is the board president of District E of the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) with a term lasting until December 2024 and on Monday, in a move that would make any establishment politician proud, she dropped a stunner ahead of a scheduled vacation. Appearing on KUSI’s “Good Evening San Diego,” the doctor of Administrative and Policy Studies announced that masks were back and they were not optional.
“The board will be on vacation and will be out, but we wanted to put in place policy that would take the data into consideration,” she explained of a vote that took place May 24 to lay out the threshold for the automatic return to masking and would therefore allow the board to point the blame for the mandate elsewhere.
When asked about opposition to the policy, Whitehurst-Payne noted that, ahead of the fall term, students could find a different school or enroll in online opportunities, but in her view, “They should really wear the mask.”
However, the question was raised about the students currently participating in summer classes. For them, the board president shrugged off concerns and said they are free to leave and not come back, “They should make it known that they don’t feel comfortable and at that point just not return.”
Aside from the highly questionable efficacy of mask mandates and a school board member’s flagrant dismissal of student concerns, the policy itself was shown to be built on a faulty premise as data from San Diego County showed a brief uptick in cases last week before a decline to their lowest levels since the beginning of June, all before masking was reinstated in the classrooms.
SDUSD simply stated, “As a reminder, the District established criteria approved by our board on May 24, 2022 that, if reached, would require a return to mandatory indoor masking. This week, one of those criteria was reached, with San Diego County entering the ‘high’ COVID-19 community level.”
Dr. Kelly Victory, an emergency medicine and disaster specialist based in Steamboat Springs, Colo., was not so receptive to the announcement and she offered her expertise to KUSI.
“I have over 200 published scientific studies refuting the effectiveness of masks in stopping respiratory viruses. Let’s talk about the science. Let’s not talk about what’s politically correct and what serves another narrative – fear mongering,” Victory said.
If masks could stop COVID, Victory added, “we wouldn’t be in the pickle we’re in because the places around the world that were pedantic about their mask mandates wouldn’t continue to see significant case numbers.”
“They always fail to acknowledge or address the mounting number of negative impacts of wearing a mask. We know that there are many, independent of the social impact, the impact that face masks have had on children’s ability to speak properly, to recognize facial expressions, interact socially, and on and on,” she noted before stating her skepticism. “It’s hard to imagine why they would continue to propose these.”
As numerous studies have shown, masks have been linked to developmental drops in children, including by as much as 23 percent according to a Brown University study of 1,600 children. Victory may have been near the mark when she raised the specter of political motivation as Whitehurst-Payne has signaled favor for other charged measures that include lowering the legal age to vote to 16 and opening up board elections for all city residents to include illegal immigrants.
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