Hi SoCal. Change is our intention. – ‘Stop child abuse’: Parents protest LAUSD mask mandate

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A group of parents upset over the continued requirement to wear a mask indoors at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses rallied outside the teachers’ union headquarters on Tuesday, demanding an end to the COVID-19 requirement that has already been lifted at most other schools in the state.

Chanting and holding signs with slogans such as ‘Stop child abuse’, ‘My child my choice’ and ‘Take off the masks now’, parents blamed United Teachers Los Angeles for forcing the district to continue requiring masks indoors. The union’s employment contract for this semester requires COVID safety measures, including masks, and waiving the requirement is subject to union negotiations.

“In my opinion, this is child abuse and it’s going to cause trauma for the rest of their lives,” Anna Gonzalez told CBS2.

Parent Robbie King told the station that maintaining a mask mandate goes against the recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s just unacceptable,” King told Channel 2. “I’m so tired of this union negotiating things they really have no business in.”

He added: “Everyone across the country followed the rules. … We are fed up.

Los Angeles State and County officially lifted the requirement for indoor mask-wearing in schools on Saturday. The LAUSD, however, kept the requirement in place, subject to negotiations with the UTLA.

Those talks are expected to resume on Wednesday.

LAUSD still mandates masks, although Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Monday he supports eliminating the requirement.

“I have followed and will continue to follow the science,” Carvalho wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “I lifted the exterior masking upon my arrival and am looking for the same for the interior environments. The truth is that the wording of the previous (employment) contract prevents any unilateral action.”

Carvalho released a statement over the weekend saying the district is “working with union partners … to reach agreements that change indoor masking in schools from required to strongly recommended.”

UTLA released a statement last month supporting masks in schools.

“LAUSD schools have been the safest and best equipped in the country because educators and families have come together to demand essential health and safety protocols,” according to the union. “These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and over half a million students and their families. It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures when there are still many unvaccinated young people in our early education programs and schools.

The outdoor mask-wearing requirement at LAUSD schools has already been lifted.

According to the county’s public health department, local schools continue to see a decline in the number of positive tests and test positivity for their students and staff. Between Feb. 28 and March 4, more than 470,000 tests were administered at K-12 schools across the county with 1,381 testing positive, resulting in a test positivity rate of 0.3%.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has dropped dramatically over the past month. According to state figures, there were 501 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Tuesday, including 91 in intensive care.

The number of hospitalizations has fallen steadily since hitting more than 4,800 in mid-January, at the height of the winter surge fueled by Omicron.

“The declines reflect a decrease in community transmission and have resulted in reduced stress on our health care system, allowing health care providers to resume providing a full range of essential prevention and treatment services,” said Monday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Keeping transmission as low as possible is essential to protect both our healthcare system and vulnerable residents. This will require a willingness to maintain reasonable protections that curb the spread of the virus.

“While masking indoors is no longer necessary, given the continued substantial transmission, wearing masks in close contact with other people in public spaces remains a very important layer of protection, as does to be fully vaccinated and strengthened.”

The county reported 1,427 new COVID infections and 40 new deaths Monday, bringing its cumulative total to 2,813,689 cases and 31,315 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.6% on Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

On Thursday, LA County health officials said they were working to increase the number of providers who can offer residents access to anti-COVID therapies, while working to raise awareness of their availability.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, the oral medications Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescription medications that must be taken within five days of the onset of COVID symptoms. Paxlovid is available for anyone age 12 and older who weighs more than 88 pounds. Molnupiravir is available to anyone 18 years of age or older.

A third drug, Evulsheld, is given by injection and is available to people 12 and older who have not been exposed to the virus and cannot get the COVID shot for medical reasons.

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