Scores of Mask Choice Advocates Show In Board Room Following Two Weeks of Protest

February 17, 2022

Students+demonstrated+just+outside+of+school+bounds+with+signs+and+an+American+flag.+Other+demonstrations++similar+to+this+took+place+at+schools+such+as+San+Clemente+High+School+and+Ladera+Ranch+Middle+School.+

Sandhya Ganesan

Students demonstrated just outside of school bounds with signs and an American flag. Other demonstrations similar to this took place at schools such as San Clemente High School and Ladera Ranch Middle School.

A social media movement advocating for the repeal of school mask mandates led to over two weeks of school demonstrations and a flooded speakers list at the Feb. 16 CUSD board meeting. 

The movement, started by SJHHS students on their personal Instagram accounts, urged students to respectfully demonstrate their opinions by saying  “We must take action and protect our liberties. We need to stand together and make change,” and encouraged like minded students to peacefully protest by saying, “If your teacher asks you to put on a mask or asks you if you need a mask, reply with ‘no thank you.’”

In the week after the original post, students have protested just outside of school bounds at the intersections of La Pata and Stallion Ridge and around the trail behind the school. Protesters carried signs made at home along with  American flags. In addition, students organized to protest outside of the Orange County Health Care Agency office in Santa Ana on Monday February 14 at 4 p.m. with signs. 

These new locations for protests drew others to the demonstrations. A protest at the Ladera Ranch Middle School at the end of the first week of the protest garnered a significant amount of attention, and even tried to engage with other social media accounts, tagging people such as  Turning Point USA’s founder, Charlie Kirk, and Candace Owens. 

The series of new demonstrations has primarily been organized by a new Instagram account @studentmaskchoice, which has over 3k followers, and features many reels from protests. Other schools in the district, like San Clemente High School, have also had students protest the mask mandate in a similar fashion.   

Protestors advocate the end to the mask mandate in school, claiming that young people aren’t as affected by Covid, and that politicians and celebrities themselves aren’t following the mandates they set and support. 

State legislators have been relaxing mandates across the country. Indoor masking mandates have already expired in California, following CDPH guidelines, however there are venues that require exceptions still like K-12 schools.

In a petition authored by one student, senior Daniel Sorenson, the “Parents, Teachers, Faculty, and Students” he signed on behalf of the claim that “Covid rules have kept many of us safe for a long time. Many of us have taken the added precaution of becoming fully vaccinated. We can’t mask forever – we have to pivot. When better information and better protocols have become available to us, we have implemented them. It is time again to change the rules. Adapt or die.

On Feb. 28 those restrictions will be revisited, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly of the California Department of Public Health said in a video conference. According to Ghaly CDPH will “reassess data/conditions (e.g. case rate, test positivity, hospitalizations, pediatric hospitalizations, and vaccine rates) for future change to statewide school masking requirements…”   

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