The Irvine Unified School District Board of Education did not vote on a mask-choice resolution during a recent meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
After listening to dozens of comments from the community on the proposed mask choice resolution, the board did not reach an opportunity to vote because the item failed to gain support from any IUSD board members.
The resolution, item 9a on the Sept. 14 agenda, was presented by the advocacy group “Let Them Breathe” which is pushing local school districts in Orange County to opt out of the current health orders established by the California Department of Public Health on Aug. 11.
Per the state’s current order, students K-12 must wear masks inside classrooms at all times. However, while Irvine Unified is following state guidance pertaining to face masks, the district is currently not mandating vaccinations for students, and is allowing students to self attest. However, district workers must show vaccination status per state health requirements.
The topic of parental mask choice in Irvine drew dozens of comments both supportive and against the potential resolution. If passed, the use of face masks would have become a parental choice in IUSD classrooms.
While the board did not take action on the mask choice resolution, IUSD Board Member Paul Bakota said he appreciated the public’s input, adding that the resolution was not agendized by the district.
“We appreciate and value public comments. Obviously everything related to COVID – masks, vaccine, testing – unfortunately has become very controversial and divisive, so we appreciate everyone voicing their opinion that everyone actually listened with respect to positions that were contrary to theirs,” Bakota said. “There was, which is somewhat unusual, an agendized resolution, which is item number 9A, is not put forth by the district, but by someone not part of the district – so in order for it to be heard, there would have to be a motion to act upon that resolution.”
A motion on the IUSD mask choice resolution did not receive any support from IUSD board members.
In terms of COVID-19 within the school district, IUSD continues to document ongoing cases, with a daily COVID-19 dashboard which collects data over a two week period.
As of Monday, Sept. 20, IUSD’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 48 COVID-19 cases involving students, and 18 new COVID-19 cases related to district staff.