A special meeting is scheduled for Mar. 1 to discuss new state mandates

TEMPLETON — The Templeton Unified School District (TUSD) discussed mask and vaccine mandates at the Thursday, Feb. 24 school board meeting. The item on the agenda, “Review & Discussion Regarding State Mask and Vaccine Mandates,” was a discussion item only.

Currently, the State requires vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks indoors in schools and healthcare facilities, despite the mandate being dropped on Feb. 15. However, the State announced they would reevaluate the mandate in schools on Feb. 28.

Following public comment and board discussion, the TUSD Board of Trustees unanimously decided to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 1, to discuss the States new mandate if one is provided.

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Over 100 parents and students were present at the Feb. 24 meeting, advocating for mask choice. Some parents from other school districts came to the meeting to show their support for Templeton students and parents seeking mask choice. 

Students and parents attend Templeton United School District Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24 to protest for mask choice. Photo by Camille DeVaul/PRP

District 5 County Supervisor Debbie Arnold also attended the meeting, “I’m here to support the parents, grandparents, and students who are here asking their school board members to find a pathway to unmask their children here at school and to do away; with the mandates.”

She added, “I’m happy to see all these parents come. I think that it’s an issue that’s affecting our children and our families. It feels like people that have not ever engaged in their local government or been this passionate about this issue are here now and the elected officials.”

Arnold planned to speak during public comment but gave her speaking time to other students who prepared to speak.

Parents and students participated in public comment virtually or in-person—sharing opinions on both sides of the mask coin.

Board members shared their thoughts on vaccine and mask choice. Overall, many felt the vaccine mandate would not be happening anytime soon and focused on the issue of mask choice. 

Trustee Jan Nimick wished to keep on the district’s current course, “I would like to hear what comes out on Monday and certainly if we get relief to implement that relief as soon as practical, as soon as we can and to get back to normal as quick as we can.”

Trustee Ted Dubost also agreed to wait until Monday and assess the State’s timeline, “I personally am rooting for options—assuming their timeline is reasonable; I will abide by that timeline. If it is not, I would seek for more discussion to see how we would proceed.”

Parents and students fill the Templeton Elementary School (TES) Multi-purpose Room (MPR) on Thursday, Feb 24, for the Board of Trustees meeting to demand for mask choice. Photo by Camille DeVaul/PRP

Board Clerk Mendi Swan hoped the new mandate would be reasonable, “I am completely over masking—I am not interested in policing you into how you handle your health. I would very much like to see things change at the State level in terms of the guidance they give us to be more accomodating.”

Board President Nelson Yamagata had similar feelings, “I will look to see what they have to say because I am interested. That’s my position at this point right now.”

And Trustee Matt Vierra gave his final thoughts, “Vaccine should be a choice between the parent, the doctor, and the kid—if there are mandates that come down the road, I can tell you I’ll resist.”

He added, “I’m hopeful the 28th will announce something that will be positive for us, but I don’t want to wait for another two weeks for a board meeting.”

Today, students continued to protest for mask choice. Templeton High School principal Josh Aston confirmed there are 40 students protesting at the high school today.

He also confirmed the school’s protocols for students refusing to wear masks. If a student refuses to follow mask protocols, parents are contacted and asked to come and pick up their student. 

Students are either offered to enroll in independent study or if parents cannot pick up their student, they are given an alternate location to be in during the school day. Students have access to computers restrooms and can participate in breaks and lunch since breaks and lunch are outside. Students are currently being held in the gym due to colder outside temperatures.

The special meeting will be on Tuesday, Mar. 1, in the Templeton Elementary School (TES) Multi-purpose Room (MPR). A time has not been set for the meeting yet; however, meeting details will be posted with the agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

TUSD board agenda and more information can be found here.