Parent group rallies to end state’s school mask mandate

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — The mask choice group Let Them Breathe held another rally Wednesday, again pushing back on indoor mask recommendations laid out this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California public health officials.

“They spent an entire summer not masked,” said Melanie Burkholder, a mental health therapist who also ran as a Republican for the District 76 seat in the California State Assembly. “We’re telling them now they have to go back to school with a mask. I’m going to say it straight, it’s child psychological abuse.”

The rally was held outside the San Diego County Administration Center. Protesters were joined by El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells along with parents, students and the group’s legal representation.

Last Thursday, Let Them Breathe filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health to try to stop masks in schools as well as quarantine and asymptomatic testing procedures.

“It’s harming their ability to learn and it’s not giving them the education that they deserve and that they are guaranteed under the California constitution,” said Arie Spangler, attorney for Let Them Breathe.

California has argued a rise in cases and concern over the delta variant for its stance on recommending masks for everyone in indoor settings, vaccinated or not.

This week the CDC revised its initial recommendation that vaccinated people wouldn’t need to wear a mask inside, including in schools.

“CDC recommends that everyone in the K-12 schools wear a mask indoors including teachers, staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

Let Them Breathe founder Sharon McKeeman says there are families involved in the group who are in favor of vaccination, but still have a problem with mask mandates for kids.

“Since adults can be vaccinated, some parents simply are wanting their kids to be able to unmask,” McKeeman said. “So now what we’re hearing is if the CDC is recommending that everyone remains masked, they’re wondering if there’s a reason to get that vaccine for those younger kids.”

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