Paso Robles school board votes to end mask mandate for students

By KAREN VELIE

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District voted 5-2 on Tuesday to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mask mandate for schools, and to allow students to decide if they want to wear a mask at school.

More than a dozen students and parents spoke against the mandate, and for student choice. Multiple speakers chastised teachers who adversely graded students they caught not properly wearing their masks.

Board members and speakers spoke of the hypocrisy of making students, the least vulnerable in the community, wear masks at school while adults are not required to wear masks in most settings.

Only one speaker, a teacher, supported continuing the mask mandate.

Trustees Tim Gearhart and Nathan Williams dissented. Gearhart voiced concerns that defying the governor could open the district up to legal liability, which he said was his only concern. Williams said he supported ending the mask mandate, but he wanted to wait until after Newson speaks on the issue.

The ordinance to defy the state’s mask mandate was effective immediately following the vote.

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