Orange County Debates Requiring Children to Wear Masks When Schools ReopenVoice of OC | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children

Orange County educators, parents and community members are at odds over whether masks and social distancing should be required when school districts reopen.

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The Orange County Board of Education organized a special meeting Wednesday evening and invited policy and health experts as well as educators who all voiced support against requiring face coverings at school. 

That conclusion – as well as what some observers called the stacked nature of panel experts – have triggered serious blowback from many educators, parents and community members who are upset over the stance of the panelists and believe masks and social distancing are necessary to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus. 

“Just because the risk of COVID-19 to children is less, it does not make it non-existent. Nor does the risk to adults and seniors who work with and care for children become less because children are suddenly allowed to return to school,” reads a comment submitted by Lauren Stopnitzky, a parent of four in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District.

Many other people believe masks do not prevent the spread of the virus and that children are at low risk from the virus so masks should not be required. Some also feel that masks disadvantage students with special needs.

“I personally view the masking of children at schools as a form of child abuse and the very thought of it turns my stomach,” said one person during public comments. “Please no masks, no distancing, no new normal.”

Board members listed four principles in the agenda for the meeting on how to open up schools again. One principle states that social distancing children is unacceptable, another states requiring children to wear masks is an impossible task not based on science and is unacceptable.

These principles have caused concern and anger from some members in the community as Orange County’s daily hospitalizations and pace of deaths from the Coronavirus have been rising in recent weeks. 

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said at the meeting that the data is not trustworthy and that the public is spooked. 

“They’re going to see these increased hospitalization numbers and they’re going to assume rightly that that’s COVID blowing up but what’s really right is more people are finally going back to the hospital,” Wagner said.

Wagner added that because more people are going to the hospital for unrelated matters they’re getting tested positive for the virus. 

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