Paso Robles News|Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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School board approves ban on Critical Race Theory and mandatory indoor mask wearing 

Board also voted to express their opposition to state requirements mandating masks in the classroom

–The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board room overflowed Tuesday night with parents, teachers and community members concerned about two issues: Critical Race Theory and mandatory face masks for students. The room was crowded with people, most of whom were not wearing masks. Because of the lack of space in the boardroom, some watched the meeting from outside.

The Critical Race Theory had been discussed thoroughly this year, so the board limited public comment to 20 minutes. That’s despite more than 80 emails and letters to the board on the subject. The board heard from several members of the public who shared a concern about Critical Race Theory (CRT), although the theory is not currently part of the school curriculum. President Chris Arend, who wrote the resolution banning CRT felt it was important to prevent it from seeping into the classroom.

The discussion ranged from the principles of the theory, which alleges that systemic racism in the country makes all white people oppressors and people of color the oppressed. Trustee Chris Bausch and several speakers raised questions about the reasoning to ban something which is not being taught presently. After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4-3 in favor of the motion banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the district. Trustees Chris Bausch, Tim Gearhart, and Nate Williams cast the dissenting votes.

The mandatory masking discussion also generated heated public comment and lengthy discussion. The draft plan presented by Superintendent Curt Dubost calls for all students to wear masks indoors. Their report read, “We realize this requirement is highly controversial and have asked our attorney to be present to answer questions and provide counsel so that the board is fully informed of the relative wisdom of the various options open to us.”

The discussion covered arguments for and against masking, and the liabilities the district faces if masks were not required, as recommended by the state.

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted to reopen with mandatory masking and to also express their opposition to the state requirements mandating masks in the classroom.

Trustee Chris Bausch said, “The board approved the “Let them Breathe” Resolution. We did so to hopefully join with other school boards across the state to send a clear message to Sacramento to back off and let kids be kids again.

The “Let Them Breathe” resolution stipulates:

Now, therefore be it resolved, that this board establishes the following goals:

    • Advocate in writing to the CDPH to remove mandatory requirements for preventative measures such as masks, quarantines and asymptomatic testing.
    • Allow school districts to consult with city and county health departments to determine the need for safety protocols based on local conditions.
    • Advocate for parental choice for masking and vaccinating their children.
    • Ensure that mask requirements will not be used as punishment to coerce children to get vaccinated.

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