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Bonsall future leaders protest mask mandate

 

Last updated 2/18/2022 at 9:04am



Julie Reeder

Publisher

Last week, in protest, 45 students refused to wear their masks at Sullivan Middle School in Bonsall.

Thirteen year old Harrison Jones decided not to continue wearing his mask after seeing Governor Newsom at the televised basketball game maskless, in a stadium with tens of thousands of maskless people, including immunocompromised person Magic Johnson.

Harrison has already had Covid, according to his mom, so he’s one of the safest people to be around with his natural immunity.

According to Lindsey Jones, her son Harrison was kept outside the classroom all day and the next day when over 40 students joined him, they all were kept outside, despite the cold windy weather with little to no supervision. Harrison was also suspended. Jones said the administration has treated the kids terribly. The superintendent was called for comment but as of press time had not chosen to return the call to Village News.

In the following days, the students were given work and kept inside the multipurpose room and then the library.

Jones said, “The teachers have actually been wonderful. But the administration has treated the kids terribly. I understand that the school is in an awkward position, but even the CDC says cloth masks are ineffective. Then to make things worse, they are marking the kids present for two periods and marking them truant the rest of the day to punish them.”

The Jones have retained an attorney and sent the school district a letter. Legal counsel for ‘Let Them Breathe,’ a non-profit organization which has been coordinating action across California on behalf of over 30,000 concerned parents, sent a notice to BUSD on Feb. 5, which prompted a special board meeting last Sunday, Feb 6, according to Larissa Anderson, president of BUSD Board of Trustees. Jones said they have tried every other avenue possible and this was their last resort.

Anderson agreed that the current mask protests at schools came after “many student families have been vocal in communicating Covid response concerns with elected officials at the county and state level for nearly two years, and the current mask protests at schools are a result of extreme frustration.” She added, “Tensions around mask mandates in K-12 schools have been escalating across California, especially since prominent government officials were photographed mask-less at SoFi stadium at the end of January.”

She goes on to say most of the students have not caused any trouble with notable exceptions. She voiced frustration with at least one parent who, instead of picking up their disruptive student, brought them lunch.

Anderson said, “Non-compliant student families have said that this protest is supposed to be uncomfortable for the schools, that it is supposed to disrupt the schools in order to change the status quo around Covid mandates.

“At the special board meeting Feb. 6, the situation and potential for litigation was addressed. Public comment was heard before the board adjourned to closed session. Legal counsel for BUSD has advised that regardless of the opinions of any board member, administrator or teacher, that the law must be followed, including mask-wearing mandates under the current emergency order. Bonsall Unified School District is committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students and a safe working environment for our staff.”

According to a newsletter that was sent out from the BUSD Superintendent’s office the meeting was called “Due to a heightened concern for student and staff safety as a result of last week’s mask protest at Sullivan Middle School.” They were holding the meeting and communicating to the parents their “Commitment to a safe learning and working environment.”

The district also wrote, “It is important that our community understand that the mandates that exist for mask-wearing on school campuses are generated by the California Department of Public Health, the County Department of Public Health, and CAL OSHA under the emergency order by Governor Newsom. Bonsall Unified School District is required by law to uphold mandates. This is not a district, school, or teacher decision.”

And that is absolutely true. But let’s not lose sight of what a great teaching moment for those students who are learning first hand about civil disobedience, the difference between a mandate and a law, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

These “troublemakers,” the ones who are brave enough to stand up, are likely future leaders. The school has to fight to protect themselves and their funding and the students have to fight for their rights. It’s important. Thank God there are some kids who are willing to be skeptical, question authority and think critically for themselves.

The school will likely have to decide between obeying the state and fighting a lawsuit on behalf of the students. A legal fight takes a long time but there are other school districts that have chosen to not obey the mandates.

The challenge is that they open themselves up to lawsuits. Board members could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1000 each or receive jail terms of up to six months, or both if they don’t follow the public health order, according to Kristina Funderburk, senior associate counsel for Schools Legal Service.

Funderburk also warned that school districts could lose both state and federal funding if officials fail to comply with the governor’s order or any new law adding COVID-19 experimental vaccines to the list of required immunizations. They also face fines and penalties by Cal/OSHA.

"While I personally believe that children in California have suffered disproportionately from pandemic policies and support mask choice, I am disheartened that our school district has become a stage for grandstanding by a few vigilantes. It has been a frustrating two years for educators and students alike, and this protest further disrupts learning and takes the focus away from all the wonderful things that are happening in Bonsall Unified School District. I sure hope that the California state government is listening and creates better targeted strategies for protecting vulnerable populations rather than draconian one-size-fits-all approaches which clearly are not working. Regardless, Bonsall schools are still filled with dynamic and dedicated educators who pivot daily because lifelong learning is a hallmark of humanity. We will persevere as a strong community and continue to support public education as a cornerstone of civilized society," said Anderson.

“When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” Thomas Jefferson

Our country has a long history of using civil disobedience to protest and fight for freedom. In current times, this sometimes means not obeying mandates, or even breaking the law.

Is it always wrong to break the law? Some laws and mandates, as we have seen over the last year, are challenged and found to not be Constitutional. But someone had to challenge that mandate or law and even possibly break that law. This was the case in closing down churches during the pandemic. It was a mandate, but the courts struck it down because it was unconstitutional.

Slavery was at one time a law, but it was wrong and had to be disobeyed and changed. “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

These days, it seems “freedom” is a luxury if you are part of the ruling class.

When regular underlings want freedom to work, freedom to go to school, freedom to breathe freely without a mask, freedom to communicate a maskless smile, freedom to speak as in the First Amendment, freedom to research doctors, scientists, politicians and other Americans on the internet without censorship, those underlings are seen as “others,” “dangerous,” “trouble-makers.”

This rhetoric is dangerous and divisive. Right now, even the word “freedom” is being stigmatized.

And let’s be honest, it has nothing to do with “following the science.” Even Johns Hopkins has released a study revealing the lockdowns were ineffective. Cloth masks, even surgical masks, have been proven ineffective by our ruling agencies, but we continue the compliance charade until our leader releases us.

But that doesn’t stop him from continuing to demand masking from the underclass and the least affected by COVID-19, which is our children. This week the state announced they will not drop the mask mandate for the vaccinated. Children, despite science, must still cover their faces, reduce their oxygen, and go without seeing the normal socialization cues (smiling, sadness, etc.) they learn from each other while playing and learning.

Gov. Newsom knows the masks are ineffective. It’s time to end the mandate and support those up and coming leaders.

 

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