The Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) Board of Education meeting was two hours behind schedule after quelling unruly parents on Tuesday, July 13.

The district required everyone to wear a face mask or show proof of vaccination. Parents did not want to comply.

“The state requires face masks or proof of vaccination for K-12 indoor public meetings,” said district spokeswoman MaryRone Shell. “If a child is present, everyone must wear a mask.”

The district has required masks for all meetings, but parents said there was no law requiring them. After speaking with Redlands police, parents who complied with the mask requirement were let into the board room.

“Since we are a K-12 institution, face masks are still required by the state,” said Heidi Mackamul, assistant to the superintendent. “We wear them at the district office and our school board meetings.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parents urged the Board of Education to vote to remove the mask requirement for students. However, the district must follow state guidelines.

On Monday, July 12, the state released updated guidance on face masks.

Face masks are required for all teachers and students while indoors.

Initially, the state said districts could send students home if they refused to wear a mask, but it amended that rule on July 12, stating districts could make their own decisions about sending students home.

Safety measures for kindergarten through 12th grade

1. Masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings.

2. K-12 students are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per California Department of Public Health (CDHP) face mask guidance. Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students.

3. People exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

4. Schools must develop and implement local protocols to provide a face covering to students who inadvertently fail to bring a face mask to school to prevent unnecessary exclusions.

5. Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements. Additionally, schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering. Note: Public schools should be aware of the requirements in AB 130 to offer independent study programs for the 2021-22 school year.

6. In limited situations where a face covering cannot be used for pedagogical or developmental reasons (communicating or assisting young children or those with special needs), a face shield with a drape (per CDPH guidelines) can be used instead of a face covering while in the classroom as long as the wearer maintains physical distance from others. Staff must return to wearing a face mask outside of the classroom.

Superintendent Mauricio Arellano thanked parents who came out to speak.

"I want to thank the members of our community for sharing their views with us," said Arellano. "As a public entity, we need to be open to hearing comments and concerns of our stakeholders. We have all taken copious notes. We always have the difficult situation as leaders to make decisions and so thank you to our constituents for being here."

Arellano went on to speak about how the district is preparing for the 2021-22 school year.

"We are busy filling vacancies. Human Resources is working on hiring. We are ordering instructional materials. We are all mapping out our to-do lists for the school year calendar. There is a lot going on. I will continue to update the public on any guidance from the CDHP as it relates to mandates which were spoken of here tonight. It seems like things are constantly changing. We are focused on overall safety. Three years ago, we made a commitment to protect our students on campus. We will review our policies for adult-student boundaries, the See Something, Hear Something, Sense Something posters with staff and students, so everyone knows how to report misconduct."

The Board of Education approved two new secondary elective courses for students: Journalism: Innovation and Leadership and Introduction to Ethnic Studies. Descriptions of the courses are listed on the agenda for the July 13 meeting.

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