Parents worry about lack of mask requirement in district proposal

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 20:38:40-04

Encinitas, CA (KGTV) Families across San Diego are anxiously wondering what school will look like in the fall.

Like other districts, the San Dieguito Union High School District is gathering feedback from parents to see what they're comfortable with as the start of school approaches.

Some parents are concerned that their district's current proposal doesn't require students to wear a face-covering when social distancing cannot be maintained.

Joshua Graff Zivin has three children, including a son starting at Torrey Pines High school in the fall.

"There is just now an abundance of evidence that masks are very helpful in reducing the spread of the disease," said Graff Zivin.

He isn't just a concerned parent; the Solana Beach resident has an extensive background in public health. He was on the faculty of public health at Columbia University for 11 years. He currently holds faculty positions at UC San Diego. He also directs the Global Health Institute at UCSD.

"It seems like the optional mask requirement, in my view, is a mistake," said Graff Zivin.

He believes masks should be required when students can't maintain six feet of distance from each other.

"It is not practical or reasonable to imagine that students would be wearing masks for a seven or eight hour school day, but it does not seem impractical to imagine that students would be required to wear a mask in transitioning between classrooms ," said Graff Zivin.

The district superintendent was unavailable for an interview Tuesday, but sent 10News the following statement.

"We have not made any final plans for the fall 2020 semester. Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Public Health Officer, issued a new Public Health Order [], which was effective June 12. Here is a link [] to the California Department of Public Health Guidance she refers to in her order. We surveyed our parents after doing a thought exchange that has almost 3,000 participants and 84,000 ratings. The survey was to give us some information for planning purposes. The survey included an option for a return to school based on the CDPH guidelines, which states masks are encouraged, but not required. Further, the guidance contemplates schools not being able to provide six feet of separation at all times.

What we do know is that public health orders are constantly changing, as the link above now is out of date as a new order was issued last night. We will carefully monitor any changes in orders or guidance over the course of the summer and any planning we do will be flexible," said Superintendent Robert Haley.

Graff Zivin believes the benefits of wearing a face covering is undeniable.

"As we increase the risk of our students in the high schools, we increase the risk of community transmission," said Graff Zivin.

The school board will hold a virtual meeting Thursday.