California parent groups sue Gavin Newsom, state health officials over classroom mask requirements

California schools require masks to be worn by students, staff for fall 2021

Why is the Golden State ignoring coronavirus science? Father of three Jonathan Zachreson and mother of four Sharon McKeeman with insight.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials are facing lawsuits from two parent groups in over state plans to require students to wear masks in classrooms this fall, according to reports. 

“Our kids have suffered for over a year and it’s time we put them at the forefront and give them some normalcy that they deserve,” Jonathan Zachreson, founder of Reopen California Schools, told FOX 40 of Sacramento. 

His group’s lawsuit was filed Thursday in a San Diego court. Aside from Newsom, the suit also names as defendants California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, Public Health Director Tomás Aragón, and Dr. Naomi Bardach of Safe Schools, according to the Sacramento Bee. 

The groups claim the mask requirement is more detrimental than helpful to students. The second group suing is called Let Them Breathe.

California health officials said the requirement – for kindergarten students through 12th graders — will allow for full-time in-person learning and for all students to be treated the same, whether they’re vaccinated or not.

Not all schools are able to accommodate three feet of social distancing as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends, Ghaly said. 

New guidance

The CDC’s new guidance says masks should be worn if social distancing can’t be achieved. The CDC has also said that vaccinated students and teachers can go maskless if social distancing is possible and other mitigation strategies like handwashing are met. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks Wednesday during a news conference in Universal City, California. (Associated Press)

“It’s clear that (the state health department) has chosen to ignore the overwhelming evidence that show children are at a very low risk from being infected with COVID-19, transmitting it to others, or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19,” Zachreson said in a statement, according to the Bee. “A return to a normal school year is crucial to the mental and physical health recovery for students across California who have endured months of isolation and a majority of who spent last school year entirely in distance learning.”

He claimed masks “harm” and “impede education.” 

Ghaly commented about the CDC’s mask guidance, “Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction. At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinated – treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”

“Treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”

Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, Feb. 27, 2020. (Getty Images)

Let Them Breathe founder Sharon McKeeman agreed that all the children should be treated equally and unvaccinated students shouldn’t be singled out, “however, this should be accomplished by allowing all children to unmask and share their smiles.”

Delta variant’s emergence

Coronavirus cases have ticked up in the state in the last month mainly because of the delta variant and some California counties have reinstated indoor mask mandates or recommendations.

Kindergarten students participate in a classroom activity on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles, April 13, 2021. (Associated Press)

Shannon Hobbs, a Sacramento parent who isn’t part of the lawsuit, told FOX 40 she thinks the requirement is the best thing for her child right now.

“Since she isn’t eligible (for the vaccine) right now, we would like to just do our best with what we can do to help mitigate the risks,” she said. 

Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine. 

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