News

Mountain View Whisman set to begin school year with mask mandate still in place

Unlike nearby districts, MVWSD will keep requiring masks indoors

Fifth grade students listen to a lecture in class at Landels Elementary School in Mountain View on April 7, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

When students and teachers kick off the new school year tomorrow, Aug. 10, in the Mountain View Whisman School District, masks will remain a requirement while indoors. That's a departure from most other districts in the area, which have made masking optional.

Mountain View Whisman plans to have a mask mandate in place whenever the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a "high" level of COVID-19 in the community. The CDC ranks the level of COVID-19 in each county nationwide as low, medium or high based on metrics that include the number of COVID-19 cases identified in the past seven days. Currently, Santa Clara County is listed in the "high" tier.

Even when the county is out of that tier, Mountain View Whisman still plans to require masks at individual schools if at least 10% of the student body is absent due to illness for three consecutive days, or if there are three or more COVID-19 cases in an individual classroom or other group within a two-week period during which time at least 5% of teachers and students on campus are infected with COVID-19.

There are currently no state or county rules that require wearing a mask while at school, but individual districts are allowed to implement their own policies.

Mountain View Whisman Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph said in an interview that the district has a responsibility to its students and that living with COVID-19 involves taking precautions.

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"It means that in times of high transmission, we need to look at various mitigation factors that will help keep everyone safe," Rudolph said. "In this case, masking is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease."

Rudolph also pointed to CDC guidance that recommends wearing a mask while indoors in public settings when a county is in the high tier. Santa Clara County similarly continues to strongly recommend indoor masking.

For some parents, though, the prospect of continuing to require kids to wear masks is upsetting. Lori Brody, who has two children at Bubb Elementary School, said that at this point she believes masking should be an individual choice, not a requirement.

"COVID has now been here for two years," Brody said. "It's not going away. Let's face it – it's part of life, we have to live. We have to let our children live."

Keeping mask mandates in place instills fear in kids and inhibits their interactions with each other, Brody said, adding that we now have vaccines, treatments and greater knowledge about the virus to help protect ourselves. Both of her children have received two vaccine doses, plus a booster, Brody said.

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Mountain View Whisman's decision to keep requiring masks sets it apart from many nearby districts. Neither the Los Altos School District nor the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District are requiring masks this fall. Both stopped requiring masks last spring.

Mountain View Whisman briefly removed its indoor mask mandate in late March, but reinstated it a month later when it recorded a case of on-campus transmission and kept the rule in place for the remainder of the school year.

According to Rudolph, each district has its own unique circumstances and he said that there are portions of the Mountain View Whisman attendance area that have particularly low vaccination rates. He added that the district will no longer have an on-campus, pooled testing program this year, which he said the state is no longer supporting.

Zoe Morgan
 
Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Mountain View Whisman set to begin school year with mask mandate still in place

Unlike nearby districts, MVWSD will keep requiring masks indoors

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 9, 2022, 1:45 pm

When students and teachers kick off the new school year tomorrow, Aug. 10, in the Mountain View Whisman School District, masks will remain a requirement while indoors. That's a departure from most other districts in the area, which have made masking optional.

Mountain View Whisman plans to have a mask mandate in place whenever the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a "high" level of COVID-19 in the community. The CDC ranks the level of COVID-19 in each county nationwide as low, medium or high based on metrics that include the number of COVID-19 cases identified in the past seven days. Currently, Santa Clara County is listed in the "high" tier.

Even when the county is out of that tier, Mountain View Whisman still plans to require masks at individual schools if at least 10% of the student body is absent due to illness for three consecutive days, or if there are three or more COVID-19 cases in an individual classroom or other group within a two-week period during which time at least 5% of teachers and students on campus are infected with COVID-19.

There are currently no state or county rules that require wearing a mask while at school, but individual districts are allowed to implement their own policies.

Mountain View Whisman Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph said in an interview that the district has a responsibility to its students and that living with COVID-19 involves taking precautions.

"It means that in times of high transmission, we need to look at various mitigation factors that will help keep everyone safe," Rudolph said. "In this case, masking is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease."

Rudolph also pointed to CDC guidance that recommends wearing a mask while indoors in public settings when a county is in the high tier. Santa Clara County similarly continues to strongly recommend indoor masking.

For some parents, though, the prospect of continuing to require kids to wear masks is upsetting. Lori Brody, who has two children at Bubb Elementary School, said that at this point she believes masking should be an individual choice, not a requirement.

"COVID has now been here for two years," Brody said. "It's not going away. Let's face it – it's part of life, we have to live. We have to let our children live."

Keeping mask mandates in place instills fear in kids and inhibits their interactions with each other, Brody said, adding that we now have vaccines, treatments and greater knowledge about the virus to help protect ourselves. Both of her children have received two vaccine doses, plus a booster, Brody said.

Mountain View Whisman's decision to keep requiring masks sets it apart from many nearby districts. Neither the Los Altos School District nor the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District are requiring masks this fall. Both stopped requiring masks last spring.

Mountain View Whisman briefly removed its indoor mask mandate in late March, but reinstated it a month later when it recorded a case of on-campus transmission and kept the rule in place for the remainder of the school year.

According to Rudolph, each district has its own unique circumstances and he said that there are portions of the Mountain View Whisman attendance area that have particularly low vaccination rates. He added that the district will no longer have an on-campus, pooled testing program this year, which he said the state is no longer supporting.

Comments

Parks
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 9, 2022 at 3:07 pm
Parks, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 3:07 pm

I feel safer sending my child to school as a result of this and support the district. I disagree with Ms. Brody. Children can "live" with a mask on. Many of us, however, have waning immunity due to the length of time since our last vaccine and their increasing lack of effectiveness. Considering how many have died, it seems callous to be unwilling to help others in the community with a simple step.


Barbara
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Aug 9, 2022 at 4:39 pm
Barbara, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 4:39 pm

I have three grandchildren in the Mountain View Whisman District. I work in a neighboring K-12 unified district where masks are encouraged but not mandated.


ConsiderReality
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2022 at 7:39 pm
ConsiderReality, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 7:39 pm

I'm so happy that us adults feel safer while we sit in our offices and restaurants without wearing masks, while those least susceptible to the virus are wearing masks all day.

We are certainly following the science here! We will show that virus -- just look at us signal it that we think it's serious, unlike those nasty others.

Sadly, looks like I won't be able to donate to MVWSD this year -- gotta spend it on more masks.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2022 at 9:19 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 9:19 pm

I am afraid to say this, but it is the infected indoor spaces that is currently causing the recent surge in cases.

We still have 512 new cases Web Link detected this month a day, and that is taking into account that only 20% of them are being detected.

The fact is that we currently in the last 7 days have had 284 hospitalizations and only 59 ICU beds open (40 adult and 19 child) with only 10.19% free. Web Link

The fact is that irresponsible unsafe behavior is spreading Covid at levels too high we have more hospitalizations today then we did during Delta in Santa Clara county.

And the new variant BA 4.6 has barley started yet. And we still have no known vaccine for the new variants, our update is only designed for Omicron.Web Link

Finally we are still at a high community spread level as defined by the CDC as well. Where are we taking any steps to fight Covid now?


Nora S.
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 9, 2022 at 9:36 pm
Nora S., Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 9:36 pm

Kudos to MVWSD for keeping our children safe. I have two kids in the district schools and it is a huge relief to me that the mask mandate is still in place.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Aug 9, 2022 at 11:52 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2022 at 11:52 pm

[Post removed due to disinformation]


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:01 am
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:01 am

PeaceLove, I'm surprised you're still at this, especially since you were banned for posting this stuff!


Pensive Parent
Registered user
another community
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:42 am
Pensive Parent, another community
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:42 am

Not a bad idea, with goal to keep kids in school. AND teachers. There are huge teaching and sub shortages and indoor masking keeps a % from contracting covid and being out for 5-10 days that's a win. It's not like kids can't take off their masks outdoors or at lunch, outdoor recess and way better than being out or having a revolving door of subs and absences.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:50 am
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:50 am

Peace Love,

You are posting an opinion as research. This person in fact did not perform any research to determine that his opinion was scientific. There have been plenty of research establishing that Non Pharmaceutical Interventions WORK and WORK better at preventing infection. Here is one of them Web Link "Estimating worldwide effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 incidence and population mobility patterns using a multiple-event study"


This is the kind of propblem we have had regarding Covid from the beginning, just like NASA needed proof that the solid rocket boosters were unsafe at cold temperatures before Challenger exploded. The people are being told to go into indoor spaces that are infected with covid enough that it is inevitable that they will get sick.

I know that N95 masks will only be effective for about 24 hours meaning they will need to be switched as little as 5 times in a workweek. This is why indoor spaces are inherently unsafe while we are still getting new cases of covid at this rate.

And this is not being told to workers that are being subjected to increased risk of infection.


landrew
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 10, 2022 at 2:43 pm
landrew, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 2:43 pm

I agree with Ms. Brody. Our kids, who are at the lowest risk of hospitalization and death from COVID, have more than enough virus mitigation strategies in place to allow the mask mandate to be lifted. Numerous studies show that masking impairs verbal and non-verbal communication between teachers and students, and negatively affects learning and causes significant social and emotional harm. English language learners are put at an especially significant disadvantage. Is all this damage really worth the risk of a 5-day quarantine? Vulnerable children and adults can still continue to mask, as well as anyone else who feels more comfortable masking, but we must begin to consider how to help our children thrive and flourish in this new era of endemic COVID.


J Randall
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2022 at 2:48 pm
J Randall, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 2:48 pm

We just moved here and are very disappointed by the policy. Consistent with the majority of school districts around the country, we are now shifting focus to our children’s mental health. We now take our children to baseball games, crowded concerts, and let them freely socialize without inhibition. This was not always the case, of course. For years, we isolated ourselves, actively masked, and vaxxed, but still got infected. The cost benefit of placing safety-above-all-else no longer appears like rational policy making in light of the serious impact this is having on the psyche of children in their formative years. Further, this policy is not inclusive to those families with lower risk profiles who want normalcy and are no longer attempting to avoid covid. Those at-risk or attempting to defer the inevitable should take advantage of tools available as they see fit. At this time, if you really believe in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, which is now available to school aged children, sound policy can now make the shift from collective action to individual choice.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 10, 2022 at 5:49 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 5:49 pm

It's sad to see people posting disinformation here, but fortunately it's easy to detect ("numerous studies" without listing any, vague mentions of "serious impact" without backing it up with facts).

At the end of the day, the district is responsible for fostering a safe educational environment for all of its students and staff. Schools can be a safe environment, but the evidence is clear Web Link that you need abundant testing, contact tracing, vaccination, indoor masking, and high quality air filtering to achieve that.

Kudos to the school district for following the best available evidence and doing what's right for all of our students!


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 10, 2022 at 6:05 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 10, 2022 at 6:05 pm

Let me be educational here,

I worked in the only place you can be certain you cannot be infected with covid, an Intel Corp Chip Fabrication Lab. Why, because it is the only place where are if filtered to the level necessary to be void on any airborne antigens. Those facilities are VERY expensive and require major behavioral compliance to maintain the sterile environment to produce the Chips.

Here is a really clear FACT, no indoor space is safe unless they have said system like Intel does. In effect there is NO SAFE INDOOR SPACES unless they are constantly monitored for any Covid viral loads. But even that is a severe problem because recent news reports show that Covid rapid tests have a high false negative result due to Omicron and its children here is the report Web Link titled “False negative rapid Covid tests create confusion for people with obvious symptoms”

This is VERY SERIOUS. That most people are going about their activities WITHOUT knowledge they are positive and are spreading Covid. The only reliable tests are PCR tests. The facts are the schools cannot rely on the Rapid tests to detect Covid infections.

Let alone EVERYWHERE else.


Parks
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 11, 2022 at 2:49 pm
Parks, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2022 at 2:49 pm

J Randall provides a perfect example of why we continue to need a mask requirement.

Kids going to crowded indoor events with no masks, no awareness that you can get COVID more than once and the second time can be more serious, lack of understanding that the vaccine is not very effective on the current variants.


Keyzer Soze
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:51 pm
Keyzer Soze , Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:51 pm

I registered to comment on this topic (too bad the Voice removed anonymous option, I miss all the juicy gossip that was here before).
But I digress
I think the mask requirement is just another example of our superintendent making an arbitrary decision, somehow subjugating the board to endorse it, and not backing off unless there is clearly disaster (like that infamous Teach to one case).
There was a community check in with him today and parents came out strong to comment against mask mandate.
His counter arguments included asking “what is your question?!”, muting people, and suggesting they call him later.
People wouldn’t give up so he proceeded to tell them that it’s really the board who wanted this policy. Really? The board is infamous for following his lead!
Anyway, I would just like to remind everyone that in fact he is on to something. The board approves the superintendent, not the other way around.
Remind me, when is the next school board election?


Keyzer Soze
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:53 pm
Keyzer Soze , Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:53 pm

Also, I have to agree with ConsiderReality. Best comment on this thread.


MV Resident
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:30 pm
MV Resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:30 pm

Very glad to see MVWSD taking a cautious approach at the start of the school year, and staying consistent with its previously stated policy. A few more weeks of masking to weather the current >10% positivity rates in the county seems like the wisest “mask choice” we can make together, as a community that cares for each other regardless of circumstances.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 1:43 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2022 at 1:43 pm

I would agree, that the Randell family, new to this community - may not quite understand the prevalence here to value Data, Statistics, and Science (both theory and scientific truth).

This Indoor mask Mandate ONLY KICKS in when the Data shows it may significantly help. Help what? Help cut down (not eliminate) the spread, IN schoolrooms, of a clearly proven RESPATORY virus. Kudos for the health administrators in MVWSD, the Bd. and the Superintendent.

What the Randell parents, or the Brody parents do with themselves and their kids in their own homes and travels is still UP TO THEM! You drive on the Public Streets in Mountan View - you follow the Public regulations on driving. You send your kids to Public Schools ...

Brody or Randel .. did you file to run for school board? I don't think this Single Issue would ever get you elected here (Silicon Valley).


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