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SLO County students protest as California’s school mask mandate continues

A local school parent shows support for their child protesting the mask mandate
Moms For Liberty- San Luis Obispo County
A local school parent shows support for their child protesting the mask mandate

While California lifted the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people this week, the mandate continues in certain settings such as K-12 schools.

Outside of Templeton High School Friday morning, a group of 35 students decided they’d had enough of the mask mandate, and showed up to campus not wearing a mask.

Templeton High Freshman, Kiana Keogh, is one of the students protesting.

“I feel brave," Keogh said. "But I feel very unsure.”

She’s joined with her friend and fellow classmate, Addison George. George said when they showed up to campus, school administration said they couldn’t enter the classroom without a mask.

“They kicked us off of the campus," George said. "And now we are sitting outside of the gates at a picnic table.”

The students are protesting by themselves without their parents. Keogh said this was something they decided to do on purpose.

“Because I think the most common thing that I’ve been told is that it’s our parents talking for us or that we are puppets and our parents are just behind us," Keogh said. "And we really wanted to show that this isn’t right, this is not what we believe and this is our decision.”

According to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, their hands are tied on the mask mandate for students, since the districts are following coronavirus-related directives from the state.

Earlier this week in a press conference, California Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that an update to the student mask mandate should come down in the next couple of weeks.

“On Feb. 28 we anticipate being able to share what the next period of time will look like," Ghaly said. "And on some specificity, give a date when the masking requirement will move to a recommendation.”

In the meantime, George said they don’t want to wait that long and will continue to demonstrate outside of school grounds and at school board meetings.

And while the mask mandate is no longer in place for higher education settings, some universities such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo still have the indoor masking policy in place.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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