Brentwood parents push back on school face covering rule, say kids 'can't breathe' with mask

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ByAmy Hollyfield KGO logo
Monday, August 2, 2021
East Bay parents push back on school mask mandate
Online groups and planned protests reveal a new issue school administrators will be facing as schools start again.

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KGO) -- Facebook groups and planned protests reveal a new issue school administrators will be facing as schools start again: parents who do not want their kids wearing masks at schools.

"My kids don't want to wear masks. They're not comfortable with them. They say they can't breathe. My 7-year-old is asthmatic," said David Driskell of Brentwood, where school started last Wednesday. He has sent them to school every day without a mask, and every day they get kicked out of the classroom and he takes them home.

RELATED: 11 Brentwood schools report 15 COVID-19 cases among staff, students 3 days into new school year

"We just want out kids to have a chance to be normal kids," he said Monday morning.

"I think it's horrible. How can you teach in a classroom when all their little faces aren't showing expressions?" asked Jill Schroeder, a grandmother in Brentwood. She says her granddaughter has been pulled out of public schools and now goes to a private school because of the mask mandate.

"I would pick up my granddaughter from just being there the hours and it (the mask) was soaking wet. It was gross. She would tell me kids were picking them up off the blacktop and putting them on. It's gross," she said.

Their movement has a Facebook page: Unmask the kids Brentwood. It had 454 members as of Monday morning. They are asking parents to protest so administrators will allow kids to take off their masks at school.

This issue is not exclusive to Brentwood. A protest against masks is scheduled for Tuesday morning in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

The superintendent in Brentwood says this is not a decision for administrators.

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"I am an educator, not an epidemiologist, and our job is to follow the scientists from the California Department of Public Health so we can keep our school safe and that's what we are going to do," said Superintendent Dana Eaton.

He says he is following the mandates, but Driskell questions whether schools have to listen state and federal health officials.

"It is not law, it is a mandate, so it is a guidance," Driskell argued.

Eaton disagrees.

"That's not what the state says, not what the county health department says, what our attorney says. They all say that it is a law that we have to follow. We have to have kids masked indoors," Eaton says.

"Using the CDC, whose guidance and mandates have been changing and flip flopping, is hard for most of us to understand and take seriously, especially when it doesn't seem like a lot of the problems are coming from the schools," said Driskell.

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School started in Brentwood last Wednesday. As of Monday morning, there have been 15 positive cases of COVID-19 in the district. That did not concern those who are protesting the mask mandate.

"There are going to be positive cases. You just have to roll with it and try to keep them as healthy as possible," Schroeder said.

"We all expect to see cases rise but it's not an issue. They say everybody is going to get it. But death rates are down," said Driskell.

Eaton said the schools cannot accommodate the kids who don't want to wear masks. They do have the option to do independent study or homeschooling.

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