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California school mask mandate does not faze students

Some high school students take “mask breaks” and go out to take sips of unfiltered air. They are upset by the drops of sweat on their upper lip from the heat, but nothing a quick hit can’t handle. They learned to speak louder in class. A student sitting at her desk plans to drink water – hide, sip, hide. What about masked sports conditioning? Exhausting but better than sitting at home.

As California begins returning to fully reopened campuses this month for in-person learning, the state’s mandatory mask rule will continue to be part of the new standard for all K-12 schools, which are joining. a growing list of counties and public places that require indoor masking amid the outbreak of COVID-19 fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

If the past months and the first days of the new year are any indication of how students are dealing with the latest coronavirus school rule, many say they are way past it. They have adjusted to the discomfort and much prefer being at school with their friends rather than at home on a computer.

“It has become second nature in a way,” said Deven Allen, 17, a newcomer to Lawndale High School. “You kind of can’t leave the house without a mask. You kind of feel naked without it.

On Monday, the San Bernardino Unified School District welcomed its students to the school, and to Kimbark Elementary School, the first day after more than a year of distance learning featured music, balloons and emotions. said Carissa Raia, who dropped off her 8-year-old for the third year. She said her child’s enthusiasm for going back to school quelled any complaints.

“I have the impression that the children are more used to it. It’s the parents who are panicking, ”said Raia, noting that her 12-year-old daughter, who started seventh grade, has also gotten used to wearing masks. “It’s not that big of a deal for us.”

While the mandate has met with resistance in some areas from parents advocating for ‘choice of masks’, for many students it appears the transition to masks in schools has gone smoothly.

Among older students, masks are hardly discussed, Allen said, adding that he played in club volleyball tournaments and trained with a mask. There are times, he said, when he’s tempted to lower his mask and swallow air – but he remembers the pandemic is still ongoing.

Instead, he comes out, where he can remove his mask. Plus, he discovered one benefit over the months: the time spent training with a mask helped his stamina.

“I think it will be easier to play with a mask because I already have experience,” said Deven. He also landed a summer job at McDonald’s, where he adjusted to long hours of masking.

Approximately 1,200 summer school students who returned to campuses in the Centinela Valley Union School District, which includes Lawndale High. Their new school reality over the summer and new year also means proof of coronavirus testing is displayed before entering campus.

Raymond Tiger, District Security Officer at Centinela Valley Union High School, checks the COVID-19 mobile screening of Hawthorne High School student Dannisha Northern.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

At Centinela Valley Union High, the district had no issues with the application of masks, Superintendent. Stephen Nellman said. “The kids were great. They are fully compliant, ”Nellman said. “We don’t expect it to be any different in the fall, even with a full classroom.

Wearing face coverings on long school days can be uncomfortable, but most students seem to have adjusted quickly, just as they have with other activities complicated by the pandemic, including shopping and meals at the restaurant.

Ana Santana, a new senior at Hawthorne High, isn’t a big fan of masks, especially in hot weather. But distance learning was a much worse alternative.

One recent day, Ana and her classmates followed through to class as their teacher walked them through a math problem on a whiteboard. When it gets too stuffy, she just pulls down her mask to wipe off the sweat, she said.

“You just have to know how to wear your mask and keep your distance,” Ana said. “For a year with masks, I have the impression that most children understand. “

In April, Eliana Walls, a new student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, organized walking tours for incoming students and sophomores.

California school mask mandate does not faze students

Students are masked in Peter Chau’s Summer English Course at Hawthorne High.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

For nearly eight hours, Eliana said, she kept her mask on as she led students around the sprawling campus that serves nearly 4,000 students. When she needed fresh air, she said, she would just pull her mask down, take deep breaths, and move on. And after attending summer school in person, she said, she’s ready to go back full time.

“Those few days that I went to summer school kind of helped get me into the groove of things,” Eliana said. “If everyone is doing their job and staying safe, then no, I’m not concerned. “

Orlando Arias-Pulido, a sophomore entering Ganesha High School in Pomona, said he was excited to return to school knowing he was vaccinated. But because COVID-19 can still spread among vaccinated groups, he said, he is concerned about classmates who typically don’t follow school rules and who may flout safety measures.

“I feel safer knowing that the state requires all students to wear masks,” the 15-year-old said. “If you go to Universal [Studios], they ask us to wear masks at all indoor rides. “

But the state directive has prompted protests from activists at school board meetings and challenges from some school officials, who say the masks have a negative emotional effect on students and create a barrier for them to take. they can connect with their peers. A San Diego parent group is suing the state in an attempt to quash the statewide school mask mandate.

California school mask mandate does not faze students

Members of Let Them Breathe, an anti-mask group, demonstrate outside the Redondo Beach Unified School District building.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

At Redondo Beach last Tuesday, the Let Them Breathe group held a rally to encourage parents and students to speak out at a school board meeting. They gathered on the sidewalk, holding signs and honking drivers. A woman walked by and told them they were “overreacting”.

Redondo Beach parent Monet Castañeda has said he is advocating for the choice of the mask at K-5 level.

Her 16-year-old, a rising junior, will likely return to school in a mask. But maybe not her 10-year-old son, Logan. Logan, who attended the rally, said he had difficulty concentrating with the mask when he returned to school in the spring. “I can’t concentrate properly,” he said. “It’s boring.”

Castañeda said he would prefer Logan to be homeschooled rather than going to school with a mask on.

Sharon McKeeman, a parent from Carlsbad and founder of the group, joined Parents from Redondo Beach. McKeeman asked for donations to continue the legal battle to overthrow the mandate. A timely favorable outcome, she said, could make masking optional for children before the start of the fall semester.

“We’re going to go as far as we need to be with this,” McKeeman said. “If I have to take this to the Supreme Court, I will. ”

California school mask mandate does not faze students

Patrick Ugwuezumba completes a math problem with extra credits on the Hawthorne High School chalkboard.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Patrick Ugwuezumba, a new senior at Hawthorne High, readily admits he doesn’t like wearing masks. As they prepare for sports, he said, they have to wear masks indoors.

But during a lesson in his Integrated Math 2 Summer School, Patrick took advantage of an extra credit opportunity to solve a problem in front of the class. As he explained his process, his voice, though slightly muffled, was clear enough to earn him extra credit.

“I don’t like it,” Patrick said of the masks, “but if it’s going to protect me and others, I might as well wear it.”

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