Let Them Breathe

Debate Over Mask Mandates for Schools, Advocacy Group Plans Three Rallies in North County School Districts

The rallies are in response to a letter sent by Poway, Carlsbad and Vista school districts, calling on state health officials to allow fully vaccinated people to choose whether to wear a face covering indoors and on campuses when classes resume

Giani Clarke,18, a senior at Wilson High School, takes a test in her AP Statistics class. The desks are doubled as a way to provide more social distancing.
Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

School for some students in San Diego starts as early as this week and the debate over mask rules continue to rage.

The superintendents of three North County school districts called on state health officials this week to allow fully vaccinated people to be able to choose whether to wear a face covering indoors and on campus when classes resume.

Poway, Carlsbad and Vista school districts teamed up to write a letter to state officials encouraging them to let the districts enforce the CDC’s – not California’s – mask guidance in schools, motivating national advocacy group Let Them Breathe to plan three rallies this week in the three districts represented in the letter.

Founder of Let Them Breathe, Sharon Mckeeman, says the letter doesn’t go far enough, and she was surprised by it.

 “As a Carlsbad parent I was surprised and I was really disappointed because they said that the reason they were putting forth these letters is so that vaccinated students would have that choice to unmask, but every kid should have a choice to unmask,” Mckeeman told NBC 7.

Mckeeman and the rest of the Let Them Breathe group are demanding students have the right to choose whether to mask up in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status.

In the letter, district leaders say they have worked "tirelessly" for more than a year on ways to prevent virus transmission in schools -- an approach Mckeeman says alone, is enough to keep kids safe.

“We completely agree with them on that part because we worked hard all last year advocating for those mitigation strategies so that our schools could be open so we know that they worked hard on that,” Mckeeman said.

“But where we differ is our kids all need to be able to unmask.”

That fight for a choice, motivating the group to hold three rallies this week in Carlsbad, Poway and Vista.

This week, the group is also preparing to sue the state of California over students' right to choose.

“This week we are filing the lawsuit, we'll be asking the judge for a temporary restraining order against the state's mask mandates, and if that was given to us, that could actually end the mask mandates before school starts,” Mckeeman said.

The new school year is quickly approaching for all three school districts as students return to the classroom in late August.

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