Ramona Unified weighs opt-out form for students on indoor mask requirement

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RAMONA, Calif. – District leaders at Ramona Unified are working to draft an opt-out form for parents if they choose to send their children back to the classroom without a mask this fall.

Students returning to campuses Thursday will need to wear a mask indoors, as required by the state’s Department of Public Health and current CDC guidance. Last week, the district’s board voted 3-2 to allow parents to sign a mask exemption for their students, Superintendent Theresa Grace said.

At a special board meeting Monday, the body decided to hold off on implementing the opt-out option for parents until it is properly vetted by attorneys.

“We need to have a legal team involved, so that insurance will still cover us and that everybody is still safe, both physically and legally,” board member Dawn Perfect said.

Perfect said Monday’s special meeting was intended to clarify misconceptions before the first day of school.

“There was an understanding in the community that parents could just write a letter and that would be sufficient to opt their children out of masks and it isn’t,” she said.

The board approved the Safe School Opening Plan as originally presented Aug. 12, which follows CDPH guidelines requiring all students and staff wear a face covering inside school buildings.

Ramona Unified parent Michelle Myers said she understands the mask requirement, but believes it should be up to parents to make that decision.

“Parents should be able to decide for their children what is best for them and what is safe for them,” Myers said, “and we had so much during COVID, it could put him into a panic of having to relive what they went through last year.”

Perfect says once the consent form is drafted and vetted, there possibly could be another meeting to amend the district’s reopening plan to add the opt-out form.

No set deadline has been established for when the form might be ready.

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