North County lifeguard program’s mask requirement draws ire of parents

Local

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Some parents say they’re concerned and confused after a North County junior lifeguard program recently mandated participants wear masks at all times when not in the water.

State guidance says vaccinated people do not need to wear masks with only a few exceptions, including public transit, health care settings and indoors at K-12 schools and other youth settings. Masks are still required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses, though the state largely allows businesses and venue operators to determine how to enforce that requirement.

The Carlsbad Junior Lifeguard program in question is state-run, so it came as a surprise to parents and kids that the rules don’t seem to line up with current state guidelines.

“There’s no basis and that’s what we are trying to do is find out where is this coming from,” Kirby Brislin said.

Brislin learned of the program’s mask rules in an email Sunday evening as her son and daughter were set to start the camp Monday morning.

“We know that a mask does not work when it’s wet so you’re coming out of the water and they’re putting on a mask on their face — on their wet face,” she said.

Brislin reached out to local group “Let Them Breathe” which has been advocating for mask-choice for kids.

“School has been our focus,” said Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe. “However, camps are where kids should be able to share their smiles and breathe the fresh air, especially after such a difficult year.”

The group’s attorney reached out to the program, laying out the state’s current guidance which doesn’t require masks outdoors.

“I brought the children and said to the lifeguards they’re going to be participating without a mask and they allowed them to participate,” Brislin said.

Since then, things have improved, but parents still want clarity.

“We have not gotten confirmation that they are going to revise their guidance and bring it in line with state guidance,” McKeeman said. “However after speaking with them and an attorney reaching out to them today, it seems that they are not enforcing it at this point.”

This particular junior lifeguard program has not commented on why the mask rule was put in place or how long it will stay in place.

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