Members of the public spoke in-person for the first time since March 2019

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero School Board of Trustees held their first meeting of the month last night and, for the first time since March of 2019, were able to allow members of the public to speak in-person during the oral communications from the public portion of the meeting. Seven parents and community members from Atascadero’s District and even one from out of the area showed up. They pleaded with the Trustees to place a mask policy item on the upcoming agenda so that it can be discussed with the public.

Parents recited education code, health and safety concerns, liability, various statistics, and other reasons why they would like to see the policy on the agenda and why they do not support their children wearing masks at school.

“The science and data out there, if you are willing to go look for it, on elementary students wearing masks all day and the concerns on sanitary-ness, air filtration, the lack of oxygen, the lack of ability to focus with a lack of oxygen,” One parent told to the Trustees. “These are all real potential problems that could be traced directly to a mask policy if you choose to institute it. By contrast, if a student does, unfortunately, come down with COVID, your liability is almost nil. How can you prove that the student obtained COVID at your facility? But, if my child faints in class, I know exactly who to blame.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Parents were also worried about their children’s ability to make up for lost learning and sympathized with the Trustees and the decisions they have been and continue to be faced with.

“You are faced with this horrible dilemma where you are between a rock and a hard place,” Another mother said. “People are — I’m just going to say it — brainwashed. You know it, and I know it. And you can’t make the decision that you want to make because somebody is going to sue you, and the kids are going to suffer.”

Because the topic of masks was not on the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting, it was not discussed by the Trustees, but they thanked everyone for their comments and encouraged the public to keep reaching out to have their voices heard no matter what side of the issue they may fall on.

Following words from the eight members in-person, the Trustees were read a handful of emails from community members who expressed their concern about wearing masks during in-person learning.

The Board of Trustees meeting opened with two recognitions from the District, the first a recognition for the Core Value of Teamwork for all the District’s nurses and the second for Atascadero Middle School teacher Jeff Jones for the Core Value of Excellence.

The Board of Trustees then heard updates from two more District schools in the Fine Arts Academy and Atascadero Middle School (AMS). The presentations were given by Fine Arts Principal Kibbe Rubin and AMS acting principal Will Wallace.

In closing, the Trustees held a public hearing for the collective bargaining agreement between AUSD and the Atascadero District Teachers Association and quickly ran through a few orders of business such as employee salary schedule, employment agreement for the Superintendent and a Board Compensation increase ($65 per Board member per year).

Assistant Superintendent Curt Eichberger joined the Zoom meeting one final time to present a declaration that the week of May 3-7 is Teacher Appreciation week and held two more public hearings for the initial bargaining proposals between AUSD and the California Schools Employees Association.

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