FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Sierra Unified Board of Trustees voted Monday night to comply with the California Department of Public Health’s school health orders.
The board called the special meeting Monday night to hear from the public on a variety of COVID-19 policies.
More than 50 people showed up at the meeting, many of them speaking out against masks in schools.
But in a close vote by the board, they committed to complying with the state’s guidance.
Cars lined the street outside the Sierra Unified School District Office as the board decided whether or not they would comply with the state’s COVID-19 guidance, which includes masks indoors and routine covid-19 testing for unvaccinated staff.
“Masks are nothing more than a breeding ground for illness and a distraction for kids,” said a mother of a student during the meeting.
Some teachers said it was hard to balance teaching while also enforcing a mask mandate.
Others said they don’t trust the nasal testing swabs and wanted the district to offer a saliva test instead.
“I’m being asked to disregard my personal and religious beliefs to comply with my employer’s request and I feel my human rights are being violated,” said a teacher.
Not everyone was against the COVID-19 safety measures.
Sierra High alum Bryant Platt was one of a small group inside wearing masks.
“I would really love to move back up here with my kid and I hope this district makes decisions that would make that a safe thing to do,” explained Platt.
In Fresno County, 65% of residents are vaccinated with at least one dose. But in zip codes within the Sierra Unified School District, that percentage is much lower, between 34 and 45%.
In a close 4-3 vote, the board decided to comply in order to keep schools open.
“I don’t want this decision, I don’t even agree with all the state’s guidance,” said board member Ben Kimbler.
Kimbler says the decision was a tough one.
“I know I offended some really close friends tonight. I still call them my friends though whether they agreed with my decision or not,” Kimbler said.
One board member suggested creating a health and safety committee to help with some of the challenges they’ve seen in schools.
The next board meeting is on October 11th.