LATEST NEWS San Diego exemplifies Democratic push for mask mandates in...

San Diego exemplifies Democratic push for mask mandates in public schools

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On Monday, the San Diego Unified School District, the second-largest K-12 system in the state of California and one of the top 25 in the country, re-imposed an indoor mask-wearing requirement for all students and staff. , in response to the increase in COVID-19 infections. in the surrounding community.

Remasking was automatically activated through a district decision last May when San Diego County crossed the threshold considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday to indicate a “high” level of spread. community: more than 200 new cases. per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average and above 10 percent of staffed hospital beds in use by COVID patients. the CDC Guidance for schools and daycares, which San Diego adheres to, is that “universal indoor mask use is recommended at a high community level of COVID-19.”

According to the CDC metrics As of Tuesday morning, 35 percent of US counties had “high” community levels, 40 percent had “medium” and 25 percent “low.” That doesn’t mean 35 percent of school districts will go back to wearing masks, far from it. According to the tracking site. burbiowearing masks in schools is prohibited statewide in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Utah, and as of July 18, face coverings were required in just 1.2 percent of districts nationwide.

But that number is sure to grow under the BA.5 subvariant in the coming weeks, largely on the Democratic-controlled policies that, since the start of the pandemic, have embraced the more restrictive school policies not only in the United States but among the industrialized nations of the world. Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, will impose a general indoor mask-wearing requirement on July 29 if the community level remains “high,” officials said. earlier this month. The University of California campuses at Los Angeles, Irvine, and Riverside all have brought back mandatory masks.

In a Monday interview with KUSI News that has gone semi-viral, San Diego Unified School District Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said kids and parents who don’t want to wear masks if the mandate remains in place in the fall “can come to our school that’s online, they can choose not to go back to regular school, but to go to school where they don’t have to go to school other than through Zoom.” As for the mask-averse summer school kids who were presented with the new requirement, “They should let it be known that they’re not comfortable and at that point just don’t come back.”

The take it or leave it tenor of Whitehurst-Payne commentary is best experienced audiovisually:

As fate would have it, San Diego schools were in the national news just days after all eyes were on New York City, where the Department of Education (DOE) just projected another staggering drop in enrollment, projected at 30,000 more students missing from the government. direct the schools this case.

“We have a massive hemorrhage of students, a massive hemorrhage,” Mayor Eric Adams said. In the past week. “We are in a very dangerous place in terms of the number of students that we are dropping off.”

One of the dangers caused by the continuous dropouts in public schools is undoubtedly political: last week, 41 of the 51 members of the New York City Council signed a joint letter demanding that Adams reinstate the $215 million in DOE cuts in a 2022-23 budget that most of them had voted last month to approve. (New York, like most school districts across the country, has a funding formula tied to enrollment; the federal government’s $190 billion pandemic bailouts to K-12 systems were able to cover that shortfall by a while, but that source is coming to an end). down.)

In fact, it’s a brazen move for Democratic politicians and the teachers’ unions that help elect them to demand the same (or more) funding from taxpayers in exchange for providing a service that a shrinking number of taxpayers are willing to accept. , even for free. But unions, in particular, have been willing during the pandemic to trade public affection for public money. The problem for them now is that they may be running out of both.

An annual Gallup poll is published In the past week showed the second-lowest public confidence in the US public school system (28 percent) in the survey’s history, with trend lines sharply descending. Has been record amounts of school board recall activity, including the historic disavowal of three board members in San Francisco last February. National polls have been showing the Republican Party bridging the longstanding gap vs Democrats on the issue of education; Even a poll commissioned by the heavily Democratic-leaning American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in seven battleground states showed both parties running neck and neck.

As union/Democrat-led districts, counties, and states return to wearing school masks, it’s worth remembering that the very CDC guidelines on which their policies are based have never included a single study that isolated the effectiveness of masks in school settings. This was true when the agency recommended universal use of school masks (until February of this year), and remained true after the CDC hastily announced a change in guidelines in the face of some blue state governors abandoning their deference to the public health apparatus of the federal government.

While the benefits of wearing face masks in school, particularly at a time of widespread vaccination (which teachers enjoyed long before the rest of the population), have eluded quantification, the harms of the kind of remote learning now being recommended by the SDUSD chief to the reluctant have been documented. thoroughly. “The greatest disruption in the history of American education,” professors Meira Levinson and Daniel Markovits considered in the atlantic last month.

Unsurprisingly, the same big city districts that have adopted these restrictions are the same ones experiencing de-enrollment. The America Enterprise Institute found in a april study that districts with the most remote learning saw a two-year enrollment decline of 4.4 percent since COVID-19 hit, while those most open lost just 1.1 percent. Burbio that same month showed that in the 2021-22 school year, only the “big city” category among the top four geographic designations continued to lose enrollment.

There are other factors driving population shifts away from metropolitan areas entirely, including high housing costs, reduced immigration, and an increase in remote work. But it is hard to escape the conclusion offered this week by Mary Katharine Ham in the daily beast: “Many parents learned for the first time in 2020 what it looks like to be stuck in a failing public school. They also learned that some leaders who thought they were prioritizing their children’s education were not.”

Every video of a school bureaucrat treating remote learning as a trivial byproduct of necessary security measures will create another enthusiast for school choice. Two and a half years have passed, and the public education establishment still seems far from learning that lesson.

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