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Lucerne Valley USD seeks local control on face coverings

If approved, the LVUSD and other California school boards would have the authority to decide if and when masks are needed in response to COVID-19.

Lucerne Valley, Calif. — August 13, 2021— The Lucerne Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees on August 12th voted unanimously on a resolution requesting California state officials give local educational agencies the authority on mask wearing mandates rather than such directives coming from the state.

Resolution No. 2122-01 was approved by the five-member LVUSD school board during its regular monthly meeting. The board also approved sending a letter to the California Department of Public Health regarding that department’s mandating masks for students in public schools.

“We think it should be our choice, not the government,” School Board President Tom Courtney said during Thursday’s meeting.

The resolution requests the state “work diligently to provide consistent, timely and science-based guidance” that will expedite the return to normalcy in San Bernardino County public schools. It also calls upon the State to allow local educational agencies to establish safety protocols in response to COVID-19 that allows for the optional, rather than mandatory, use of face coverings in the school setting. 

The board’s action directed Superintendent Peter Livingston to send the resolution to specific state officials. They are Governor Gavin Newsom; Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins; Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond; State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón; Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond; Chair, State Board of Education; and the members of the San Bernardino County legislative delegation. 

Dr. Aragón issued an order on June 15 requiring all individuals continue to follow the requirements in the current COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) on June 17 adopted Emergency Temporary Standards allowing fully vaccinated employees to forego face coverings and removed most physical distancing requirements, but it continued to incorporate CDPH face covering guidance for K-12 schools.

“It’s time for local control for schools, in my mind,” Superintendent Livingston said. “It’s time for this (state controlled mask mandates) to end. It’s time for local control to come back.”

Located in the High Desert, the Lucerne Valley USD serves more than 890 students and was the first school district in the county to reopen to full-time instruction in August of 2020 following school closures mandated by the state. The school district is implementing programs to reduce learning loss and provide for additional social-emotional supports.

“Many families and community members served by the Lucerne Valley Unified School District have expressed a strong desire for the 2021-22 school year to return to a level of normalcy that was present prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the resolution stated.

Earlier this week, on August 11th, Gavin Newsom issued a new public health order requiring all school employees in public and private K-12 schools to verify vaccination status of all employees, or test on a weekly basis, “as a means to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and align with the state’s commitment to safe, in-person instruction.”

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