FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Sierra Unified board of directors voted Monday night to comply with school health orders from the California Department of Public Health.
The board called a special meeting Monday evening to hear from the public on a variety of COVID-19 policies.
More than 50 people attended the meeting, many of whom spoke out against masks in schools.
But in a close vote by the board of directors, they pledged to abide by state guidelines.
Cars lined the street outside the Sierra Unified School District office as the board of directors decided whether or not they would comply with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, which include indoor masks and testing routine covid-19 for unvaccinated personnel.
“The masks are nothing more than a breeding ground for disease and a distraction for children,” a mother of a student said at the meeting.
Some teachers said it was difficult to balance teaching while applying a mask mandate.
Others said they did not trust the nasal swabs and wanted the district to offer a saliva test instead.
“I am being asked to disregard my personal and religious beliefs to comply with my employer’s request and I feel my human rights are being violated,” said one teacher.
Not everyone was against the security measures related to COVID-19.
Sierra High alumnus Bryant Platt was among a small group inside wearing masks.
“I would really love to come back here with my child and I hope this district makes decisions that will make it a safe thing to do,” Platt explained.
In Fresno County, 65% of residents are vaccinated with at least one dose. But in the Sierra Unified School District zip codes, that percentage is much lower, between 34 and 45 percent.
In a close 4-3 vote, the board decided to comply in order to keep the schools open.
“I don’t want this decision, I don’t even agree with all of the state’s guidelines,” board member Ben Kimbler said.
Kimbler says the decision was difficult.
“I know I offended some very close friends tonight. I always call them my friends whether or not they agree with my decision, ”Kimbler said.
A board member suggested forming a health and safety committee to help address some of the challenges they have seen in schools.
The next board of directors will take place on October 11.