Parents react to Tehachapi Unified School District’s temporary school closure announcement

“People are done, people are tired, we all are.”
Tehachapi Unified School District Office, Tehachapi (FILE)
Tehachapi High School, Tehachapi (FILE)
Tompkins Elementary School, Tehachapi (FILE)
Jacobsen Middle School, Tehachapi (FILE)
Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 21:31:04-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Tehachapi Unified School District announced schools are closed from Friday through Monday because of what they say are difficult attempts to maintain a safe learning environment for all.

The district is also urging Governor Newsom to revise the mask requirement in schools to allow parents to choose if their child will wear a mask in the classroom.

Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson said staff and administration have been stretched thin.

Anger and frustration expressed from parents and students supporting both sides of the mask mandate have caused disruption in the classroom and other Kern County school districts may not be far behind.

“People are done, people are tired, we all are.” It’s a frustrating time for Brandi Reel, who has a student within the Tehachapi Unified School District.

She doesn’t agree with the mask mandate and said when she read the district’s letter to cancel school, it came as a surprise.

“I was literally just shocked and had no reaction for a while, and then I was like you know as frustrating as it is, this sends a really good message to the state.”

In a statement to 23ABC, the Tehachapi Unified School District Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson said: “Up until last week, TUSD had little to no widespread issues related to the implementation of the school mask mandate. Students have been attending school all year with no change in the universal indoor masking requirements for school. Since that time, the mandate has not changed however, for some students, parents, and staff, their willingness to comply with the mandate is no longer present.”

Based on some pictures we’ve received, TUSD parents and students have initiated protests at some Tehachapi schools by not wearing masks.

“It's frustrating to see adults living their life without masks, and to be able to live your life without a mask when you go to the grocery store or a football game, but then you go to school the next day and are expected to comply.”

It's not the only district where parents and students are taking action, at Sierra Sands Unified School District, according to some parents, protests began at their schools this week.

With some students going to class without masks and holding up freedom of choice posters. Parent Frank Graham is also against the mandate.

“At first they would be sent to the office and they would be talked to and then they were being sent to detention and written what they would call reflection sheets right, you were basically reflecting on why you were standing up and protesting of this mask and why you don’t want to wear it at other schools they were put into a gym and where they had to sit in the gym for 6 hours in a day.”

Meanwhile, in Tehachapi Lawson-Everson says COVID-19 cases in schools have dropped, and said circumstances will be reassessed Monday after the anticipated changes by the California Department of Public Health related to the school mask mandate.

Reel said she is hopeful change will come soon. “I am hopeful, on one hand, and on the other, I feel like this might not play out the way that we want.”

23ABC reached out to the Sierra Sands Unified School District’s superintendent but haven’t heard back at this time.

Larson-Everson also said with this week’s school closures the district will not shift to virtual instruction and students will not have fewer school days. Instead, they will make it up on April 1 and April 19.