PSUSD School Board hears from mask opponents, can do little to fulfill their requests

PSUSD School Board hears from mask opponents, can do little to fulfill their requests

Children attending classes in person throughout California will be required to wear masks when the new school year starts. (Photo by Kelly Sikkema)

Community members concerned about mask requirements for students attending in-person classes in the Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) made their concerns known Tuesday evening. There’s little chance their efforts will bring about change.

Eight speakers appeared before the Board during the public comment period of its regular monthly meeting. Half reported living outside the district. None said they currently have children enrolled in its schools. Unlike a July 20 meeting of the Desert Sands Unified School District in La Quinta, commenters, while passionate about issues they brought up, made no efforts to disrupt the meeting.

“I grew up in this district, so this is very personal for me,” said one Palm Springs resident who spoke to Board members. “I had enrolled my children in this district, but I pulled them from the district when I saw the writing on the wall. Please just think about sending the recommendations back to the governor, as long as he’s still employed. Make it so that it’s not mandatory to make kids wear masks.

“It’s not scientific to make kids wear masks. It’s indoctrinated child abuse to put something over a kid’s face.”

At issue for her and the other speakers are state requirements that students in grades K-12 wear masks to begin the school year to protect them from possible COVID-19 transmission. Aside from claiming those requirements are abusive, speakers Tuesday evening alleged that masks cause breathing issues and other health problems. They also asserted that vaccines are not necessary for school-aged children and are so far not proven to work.

“There are 75 million kids between zero and 18 years old in America,” said John Parker. “In the last one-and-a-half years there have only been 400 deaths in that age range, and yet we’re going to require children to wear masks. Even worse would be to vaccinate them with what is really an experimental drug. It’s not really a vaccine. It hasn’t been approved.”

There is no reliable medical evidence to support claims that wearing masks causes immediate or long-term health issues for children. And while data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports the fatality totals touted by Parker, the growing percentage of children becoming infected with COVID-19 is concerning experts. In May, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that children now represent more than 22 percent of new COVID-19 cases in states that release data by age. This time last year, they accounted for only three percent of the cases.

In addition, reports in medical journals, which the CDC has supported, show available vaccines, while still listed as “authorized” and not “approved” by the Food and Drug Administration, are up to 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection.

School Board members thanked the speakers for their input, saying they are always welcome at their meetings. They did not offer any comments of their own, citing meeting rules that prevent them from discussing topics addressed during public comments. No matter what the Board members may think about the issue, however, the state mandate is firmly in place.

“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,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said last week in announcing the requirements. “[T]reating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment.”

On Tuesday, the CDC reversed its earlier recommendations for the general public, saying that fully vaccinated adults and children should wear masks indoors in areas with “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission. Palm Springs and Riverside County officials have not called for mandated indoor mask usage again in public buildings and private businesses. Still, some business owners in the city are asking everyone entering their stores to wear masks. Many say they do not want to take any chance of COVID-19 transmission.

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BRIEFLY

Police Chief Bryan Reyes (center) poses with visitors from United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire. (Photo courtesy Palm Springs Police Department)

CHIEF HONORED: Outgoing Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes was honored Tuesday by representatives from United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire. “You have served the City of Palm Springs with honor, dedication, and selflessness,” read a plaque presented to the chief during the visit to police headquarters. Reyes, who will retire in August, is often cited for his dedication to community policing. He stresses to those who serve in his department that “Policing is a shared responsibility between the police department and the community. … In order to be successful, we must establish partnerships with a diverse group of people from all areas and entities within the community.” A nationwide search is currently underway to find Reyes’ replacement.

SHOOTING INVESTIGATIONS: Police said Tuesday they are investigating ongoing reports of gunshots in the the city, including one incident that required hospitalization for a victim. That incident occurred at approximately 1 AM Tuesday in the 400 block of West Bon Air Drive. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. An earlier shooting, reported around 11 PM Monday in the 1500 block East San Rafael Drive, involved two homes struck by gunfire. There were no injuries reported, and police located no victims. Reports of gunfire in the city have increased in recent weeks following the death of a 19-year-old Indio woman who was shot on July 8 near West Bon Air Drive as she was riding in a car.


Correction: A report in yesterday’s email edition of The Post stated that the low temperature in the city on Monday was 96 degrees and that it was a record low for July 26. In fact, 96 degrees was the high temperature on Monday and is a record low high temperature for that date. The Post regrets the error.


TODAY’S EVENTS

MIZELL EVENTS: Nine programs, including Dick Brodie’s Jam Session, are on tap today at the Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, starting at 8 AM. For a complete list of today’s offerings, click here.

APPEALS BOARD: The city’s Administrative Appeals Board meets at 5:30 PM. The agenda and call-in information can be found here.

PLANNING COMMISSION: The city’s Planning Commission meets at 5:30 PM. The agenda and call-information can be found here.


COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help.

City of Palm Springs calendar of events | Official city contacts

Palm Springs Library calendar of events

Palm Springs Unified School District calendar | Board meetings

Mizell Center calendar of events

Desert Water Agency calendar

ONE-PS calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Street sweeping schedule

Currently active development projects

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

Well in the Desert daily meals | Food distribution

Palm Springs Disposal pickup schedule

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