School Districts Prepare for a War Over Face Masks

Last year, California’s public schools had to contend with parents who oppose vaccines. Now, those same anti-science groups are setting their sights on masks. Officials worry it could complicate districts’ reopening plans.

“Anti-vaxxers are morphing into the anti-anything movement. It’s clear to me that some of them are going to have their children show up to schools without masks to prove their point and poke the bear,” California Assembly Education Chair Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) said, as quoted by Politico. “I don't know what authority schools will have.” 

Parents have already shown up at the capitol and at local meetings touting dubious and outright debunked claims about the health risks of face masks. County health officers have been physically threatened over face mask orders, contributing to more than half a dozen resignations. Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) has even authored a bill that would shield health workers' home addresses to help keep them safe. When schools reopen, will educators be subjected to the same kinds of abuse?

The reopening guidelines published by the state rely heavily on masking by both teachers and staff. Numerous studies show face coverings are one of the best ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus, especially when coupled with a six-foot distance.