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PUSD Superintendent's letter to Newsom urges decision on school mask mandate

Poway Unified School District
Posted at 5:47 PM, Feb 20, 2022

POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) — In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, the Poway Unified Superintendent is urging him to make a decision on lifting the mask mandate in schools before the end of the month.

Last week, Governor Newsom all but guaranteed the mask mandate would be ending soon. An official announcement is set for Feb. 28.

The letter expressed challenges Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps said the district is facing because of the mask mandate. She stated that staff is exhausted, and parents are divided.

"I'm glad she wrote the letter. It's about time she wrote the letter," said Jeff Anderson.

"I think this [letter] was the wrong approach, and I think this was a missed opportunity," said Kristen Beer.

Student protests, severe staffing shortages, and teachers dealing with verbal abuse are some of the issues Phelps said they've endured.

She further stated the mask mandate has led to daily protests from families, with some students refusing to wear them.

"It's time to end the mask mandate and let our children breath fresh air," said Anderson.

Anderson said the mask mandate is partly why he took his child out of the school district last year and enrolled him in private school.

"Masks don't work, and it's all theater and our children are paying the price," he said.

But some parents like Beer disagree. Beer said she supports her son wearing a mask at school.

"He's [son] never complained about it. He's never had a problem with it," said Beer.

Phelps noted that nearly 85% of PUSD employees are vaccinated.

Given the state lifted the indoor mask mandate on Feb. 15, the superintendent's letter calls for Newsom to announce a timeline for schools before Feb. 28.

However, Beer said she finds several things wrong with the letter and believes it will do more harm than good.

Beer wrote a letter to the superintendent in response. While she believes the superintendent's concern about “mixed messaging” is legitimate, Beer said the letters the board sent "only fuel confusion and excuse bad behavior."

"I was frustrated by the letter because it was definitely giving agency and licensing to the groups who have been protesting," said Beer.

You can read the entire letter below.

Poway Unified Superintendent Letter