San Diego School Board President Says Students Who Don’t Want to Mask Should “Just Not Return”

Anthony LaMesa
4 min readJul 19, 2022

WHO and UNICEF child mask guidance: “No children should be denied access to education because of mask wearing.”

Even as the harms of extended virtual instruction are now becoming clear, San Diego’s school board president said yesterday in a local television news interview that students uncomfortable with her district’s reimposed mask mandate should “just not return” to summer school and “go to the school where they don’t have to go to school at all other than via Zoom” in the fall, if the mandate still exists when all students return on August 29th.

Yes, San Diego School Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne — who says in her biography that she “chose mathematics education, rather than the engineering profession, so that I could enlighten the minds of youth” — is now telling her district’s students to mask up or stay home. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that vaccines have been available for over 1.5 years and the vast majority of children have already been infected by the virus.

The San Diego Unified School District is rigidly adhering to CDC guidance on masking and community transmission:

“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 community level according to the CDC and County data and we will communicate if there are any changes in two weeks,” the school district said in a letter sent to students and parents.

This approach, though, conflicts with guidance from UNICEF and the World Health Organization — guidance that has been adopted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control — “on the use of masks for children in the community in the context of COVID-19.”

According to the UNICEF and WHO guidance, which was developed by global public health experts and externally reviewed by a number of scholars, “no children should be denied access to education because of mask wearing.”

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Anthony LaMesa

Some thoughts on reopening America’s public schools.