News

Mask mandate lifted at Mountain View Whisman schools as COVID cases drop in Santa Clara County

The school district is still recommending that students and staff wear face coverings

Parents and students say their goodbyes as the first day back at school starts at Monta Loma Elementary School in Mountain View on August 10, 2022. Photo by Adam Pardee.

When school started last week, Mountain View Whisman was one of the few districts in the region with a mask mandate in place. Now, as of Friday, Aug. 19, masks are optional as COVID case rates fall in Santa Clara County.

The district planned to keep the mask requirement in place for as long as the county was in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high" tier for COVID-19 risk. On Thursday, Aug. 18, Santa Clara County shifted into the "medium" tier.

Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph announced at a school board meeting on Thursday evening that masks while indoors would be recommended, but not mandated, beginning on Friday. Face masks will still be required in certain settings, such as assemblies and other large gatherings.

School board members gave feedback on the district's masking rules, but didn't take a formal vote on the topic at Thursday's meeting.

According to Rudolph, the basic principle behind the district's COVID-19 safety measures is ensuring kids have access to safe, in-person instruction. With employee shortages, Rudolph said that the district wants to ensure there are enough healthy teachers available to cover classrooms. When a teacher tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to stay home for at least five days.

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The district's decision to begin the year with masks required indoors was met with support from some parents and opposition from others. Many other local school districts have opted not to require masks this fall.

Mask requirements have led to heated controversies in school districts throughout the country. On Thursday, a video showing a dispute over masking in Mountain View Whisman went viral on Twitter.

In the video clip, a staff member, who has been identified as Theuerkauf Elementary School's principal, can be seen calmly telling a parent that their child needs to wear a mask and then walking the student out of a classroom, saying that the student is welcome at school, but that district policy requires masking. After what appear to be multiple attempts to ask the parent to have their student wear a mask, a police officer is called to campus and can be heard discussing the mask requirement with the parent.

The child's father has told other news outlets that his son has sensory issues that make wearing a mask difficult and that he was excluded from class for not abiding by the masking rule. The dad has said he is considering suing the district.

In a statement, Rudolph said that he stands behind the principal and police officer, and that it was "very unfortunate" the parent chose to record the video after the principal repeatedly asked him not to.

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"This parent worked with an advocacy group outside Mountain View to create a professional video in order to nationally shame a public servant doing her job while maintaining a safe and orderly school," Rudolph said.

At Thursday's meeting, board member Chris Chiang appeared to reference the video, stating that when a parent put a disagreement that took place on a local school campus onto social media, it made the incident into a broader political issue and brought risk to children.

"There's so much nasty politics and dangerous rhetoric and ideologies out there," Chiang said. "We're bringing a target to our district when we do that."

He asked parents not to post online and instead to talk within the district about issues they have. Chiang also emphasized the importance of trustees being good listeners to parents' concerns.

Board member Devon Conley said that all kids have experienced loss during the pandemic and that as a parent, she is grieving the ways her child's life has changed. At the same time, she said that there are organized groups, such as California Parents United, that spread misinformation and take advantage of vulnerable parents.

Only three members of the public spoke during the masking discussion at Thursday's meeting, each thanking the district for its work to develop COVID-19 safety measures. One additional commenter who identified herself as Tracy Henderson, the founder of California Parents United, spoke earlier in the meeting in opposition to mask requirements. California Parents United opposes masks, COVID-19 testing and quarantining, and encourages parents to file complaints and lawsuits against districts and teachers.

When it came to the details of the district's specific policy, Rudolph asked the trustees for feedback on how to move forward. Trustee Laura Ramirez Berman said she personally will continue to send her children to school wearing high quality masks, but is interested in exploring alternatives to it being a requirement.

Chiang advocated for using the number of student and staff absences as the metric for whether to require masks, rather than broader community transmission rates. Other board members expressed interest in that idea. Ellen Wheeler said she would also support requiring masks in the days following school breaks, when many people may have been traveling.

The board didn't make any formal decisions. District spokesperson Shelly Hausman said that district staff will continue to have discussions with the board about the mask rules.

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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 >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Mask mandate lifted at Mountain View Whisman schools as COVID cases drop in Santa Clara County

The school district is still recommending that students and staff wear face coverings

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 19, 2022, 5:08 pm

When school started last week, Mountain View Whisman was one of the few districts in the region with a mask mandate in place. Now, as of Friday, Aug. 19, masks are optional as COVID case rates fall in Santa Clara County.

The district planned to keep the mask requirement in place for as long as the county was in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high" tier for COVID-19 risk. On Thursday, Aug. 18, Santa Clara County shifted into the "medium" tier.

Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph announced at a school board meeting on Thursday evening that masks while indoors would be recommended, but not mandated, beginning on Friday. Face masks will still be required in certain settings, such as assemblies and other large gatherings.

School board members gave feedback on the district's masking rules, but didn't take a formal vote on the topic at Thursday's meeting.

According to Rudolph, the basic principle behind the district's COVID-19 safety measures is ensuring kids have access to safe, in-person instruction. With employee shortages, Rudolph said that the district wants to ensure there are enough healthy teachers available to cover classrooms. When a teacher tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to stay home for at least five days.

The district's decision to begin the year with masks required indoors was met with support from some parents and opposition from others. Many other local school districts have opted not to require masks this fall.

Mask requirements have led to heated controversies in school districts throughout the country. On Thursday, a video showing a dispute over masking in Mountain View Whisman went viral on Twitter.

In the video clip, a staff member, who has been identified as Theuerkauf Elementary School's principal, can be seen calmly telling a parent that their child needs to wear a mask and then walking the student out of a classroom, saying that the student is welcome at school, but that district policy requires masking. After what appear to be multiple attempts to ask the parent to have their student wear a mask, a police officer is called to campus and can be heard discussing the mask requirement with the parent.

The child's father has told other news outlets that his son has sensory issues that make wearing a mask difficult and that he was excluded from class for not abiding by the masking rule. The dad has said he is considering suing the district.

In a statement, Rudolph said that he stands behind the principal and police officer, and that it was "very unfortunate" the parent chose to record the video after the principal repeatedly asked him not to.

"This parent worked with an advocacy group outside Mountain View to create a professional video in order to nationally shame a public servant doing her job while maintaining a safe and orderly school," Rudolph said.

At Thursday's meeting, board member Chris Chiang appeared to reference the video, stating that when a parent put a disagreement that took place on a local school campus onto social media, it made the incident into a broader political issue and brought risk to children.

"There's so much nasty politics and dangerous rhetoric and ideologies out there," Chiang said. "We're bringing a target to our district when we do that."

He asked parents not to post online and instead to talk within the district about issues they have. Chiang also emphasized the importance of trustees being good listeners to parents' concerns.

Board member Devon Conley said that all kids have experienced loss during the pandemic and that as a parent, she is grieving the ways her child's life has changed. At the same time, she said that there are organized groups, such as California Parents United, that spread misinformation and take advantage of vulnerable parents.

Only three members of the public spoke during the masking discussion at Thursday's meeting, each thanking the district for its work to develop COVID-19 safety measures. One additional commenter who identified herself as Tracy Henderson, the founder of California Parents United, spoke earlier in the meeting in opposition to mask requirements. California Parents United opposes masks, COVID-19 testing and quarantining, and encourages parents to file complaints and lawsuits against districts and teachers.

When it came to the details of the district's specific policy, Rudolph asked the trustees for feedback on how to move forward. Trustee Laura Ramirez Berman said she personally will continue to send her children to school wearing high quality masks, but is interested in exploring alternatives to it being a requirement.

Chiang advocated for using the number of student and staff absences as the metric for whether to require masks, rather than broader community transmission rates. Other board members expressed interest in that idea. Ellen Wheeler said she would also support requiring masks in the days following school breaks, when many people may have been traveling.

The board didn't make any formal decisions. District spokesperson Shelly Hausman said that district staff will continue to have discussions with the board about the mask rules.

Comments

J Randall
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2022 at 6:06 am
J Randall, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2022 at 6:06 am

This is now a national story. Chiang is right about the bad look on social media, and aside from the stress caused to the children, it’s also unfair to the teacher, who was only doing her job when enforcing the Board’s outdated and now counterproductive policy. The dad is also in a tough position and, assuming he’s a taxpayer funding the district, has every right to be upset on that premise alone. Oh well, hoping for the best, loving our neighbors, but glad we sent our son elsewhere this year.


SH
Registered user
North Whisman
on Aug 20, 2022 at 1:53 pm
SH, North Whisman
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2022 at 1:53 pm

[Portion removed] the man who filmed this and posted it to all the alt-right websites and social media sites. He used the school name and principal name and now they are being harrrassed by MAGA crowd from all over the country. He is now suing the school for not allowing his child into the TK class without mask. Money that should be spent on classrooms and students will not be going towards legal fees to defend this lawsuit. The attorney who is working with him on his is from an alt-right org. There is a whole agenda here. Watch out Mountain View.


Susan
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Aug 22, 2022 at 5:31 pm
Susan, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Aug 22, 2022 at 5:31 pm

I agree with @SH regarding the waste of school district money this incident is causing. The amount of wasted time and stress this selfish parent is causing the school is frankly disgusting. Public health rules are in place for the benefit of all. Santa Clara county has led the nation in rational COVID safety measures. Dr. Cody was vilified by media trolls in much the same fashion as these school district employees now are. Reasonable accommodations are available for children who can't, or won't, cooperate with public health rules. It appears that this parent may have provoked this incident for purely political reasons. Thanks a lot for wasting my tax dollars.


JAFO
Registered user
Castro City
on Aug 22, 2022 at 8:23 pm
JAFO, Castro City
Registered user
on Aug 22, 2022 at 8:23 pm

I am so confused.

We are hardly safe regarding covid, we still have serious numbers in hospitalizations in Santa Clara County, if you read this website Web Link

WE still have a 7 day average of 225 confirmed cases and 23 suspected cases, thus a daily average of 248. That means in a week we have 1700 people hospitalized. Since the County has 1,900,000 we have nearly .1% hospitalization a week, and this has been going for at least 2 months.

And I know that most businesses are NOT reporting Covid cases, and telling workers to not report them either

Face it we still haven't seen what BA 2.75 and BA.4.6 are going to do in the next 4 weeks. They will be maturing while we are still considering the so called Omicron B.5 variant vaccine

I agree with hope for the best, but it mist also be matched with prepare for the worst. I am going to update my current statistics regarding cases and positivity tonight


father of 3 sons
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:17 pm
father of 3 sons, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:17 pm

Male parent of TK student - this is an optional level of public schooling for your son. Male parent, teach him how to buck up? How to endure, find him some proper desensitizing cream (a pediatrician may help, or OTC).

Public Health issues and little children. I knew contemporary parents for one of my sons who Could Not/Would Not made the kid wear a seat belt in the car! "Uncomfortable, I don't like it!" "I WON"T !!! The likely hood that your kid would 'save a life' by wearing seat belts is small / the likely hood that your kid would 'save a life' by reducing infection to teachers & other students is also small.

The "ask" of you and your little son, is little. IMO, U2 need to both man up.

father of 3 former 'little sons'


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:29 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:29 pm

father of 3, absolutely. One day that boy is going to grow up into a man, look back, and be completely ashamed and embarrassed about what his father did and put him through. Once the boy grows up, he'll learn the lessons that his father is clearly emotionally unequipped to teach, but I feel so bad for him right now.

No wonder the dad felt the need to hide behind anonymity while attempting to publicly shame and endanger the principal.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2022 at 10:20 pm
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2022 at 10:20 pm

For the Aug 2022 cases MTD is 11,742 in comparison to Aug 2021, which was DELTA wave, MTD was 8,055 which means we are 1.46 times of the Aug 2021 cases when we had a supposedly safe level. Our current daily average is 489 and In Aug 2021, we had 370 cases per day.

For the month of Aug MTD we have tested 128,936 and in Aug 2021 of the same sample MTD we tested 327,188 which means our sample size is 39% of Aug 2021. But yet we have INCREASED POSITIVITY. The positivity rate is 9.55% but the Aug 2021 MTD Average was .2.91% meaning we are about 3.28 TIMES higher than July 2021.

We are currently reporting only 29 ICU beds available (29 adult and 0 child) which is only 4.98% available beds in the county. (Web Link Our averages regarding hospitalizations though we are at a 7 day average of 208 positive cases and 23 suspected cased at total of 231. We are ranked 5thh in the state. And we have remained above the rate we were in Dec 2021 of 90 by 141.

And there is research indicating that Paxlovid is NOT as effective as a treatment now. Especially for younger people Web Link

And again we have many cases of Covid not reporting thus we have more potential mutations already here, just not detected.


Robin
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 30, 2022 at 5:05 pm
Robin, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2022 at 5:05 pm

@SH “Money that should be spent on classrooms and students will NOW be going toward legal fees to defend this lawsuit.”

Yes. I too am furious at this “concealed identity dad” of 4 year old inappropriately posting online video of the school principal and officer appropriately trying to do their jobs and carry out temporary COVID restrictions. Hope his name goes viral if he pursues legal action against the district. Great example for your child on how to deal with disagreements. Maybe someday your kid will do to you what you did to the principal.


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