Parents with children attending public school in California have been anxiously awaiting today, Monday, March 14th. After fighting the entire school year to amend or remove inhumane and ineffective mitigation policies, it seems we have achieved a partial victory as mask choice is adopted statewide.
Children, especially those with special needs or those learning English as a second language, were deprived of facial interaction that is widely accepted as vital to their development. Non compliant, unvaccinated, or otherwise “difficult” students were segregated, isolated, and even discriminated against by school staff and programs. Some areas forced children outside for lunch, even during inclement weather.
Districts here in Yolo County were enforcing outdoor masking on school grounds, until we were finally able to get the policy changed during a special meeting, and although several other northern California schools adopted Mask Choice before the state issued new guidance, our board would not budge. We celebrated our small victories, isolated in our small communities, focused on our individual fights.
It seems we’ve won, and the tide has begun to shift. But did we actually lose more than we have temporarily gained? The feeling of relief following this accomplishment, while reflecting on the emails, meetings, and public comments, was as intense as it was short lived. Underlying every positive recollection was the devastating realization that I had allowed my children to be in that situation in the first place.
The upcoming school year will present its own challenges, lest we manage to continue our progress and stop bills like California SB871. Even then, many of us have completely lost our faith in the educational system and have or will be removing our families from an institution that has had us labeled as extremists for wanting what is best for our children.
This experience has been a sobering triumph at best and a harsh reminder to secure yourself first before attempting to aid those around you at worst. It was inspiring to see what individual parents, groups, school districts, cities, and counties were able to achieve in the face of a state as (by US standards) menacing as California.
Imagine what a unified group of people like that could accomplish.