LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. — The Lucerne Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees on Thursday voted unanimously to send a letter requesting Gov. Gavin Newsom provide clarity, define benchmarks, give local control, and provide a forum for parents and community members to voice their concerns regarding California’s statewide mask mandate.
The letter follows several previous resolutions and letters by the Lucerne Valley USD that sought the end of mandates and restrictions put in place by Gov. Newsom, state public health officials and others who say they have implemented the restrictions in the name of safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want our local control back,” said Lucerne Valley USD School Board President Jessica Risler,“and we want what’s best for our children back. We’re definitely going to fight for what’s best for our kids.”
In the letter, the school district specifically requests the governor issue a press release “in which you make clear that the state is the controlling authority for mandates.” Additionally, the LVUSD requests the state conduct a forum “in which concerned parents and community members can provide feedback and obtain meaningful contact with decision-makers regarding their concerns.”
The school district also wants the governor to ensure that County Public Health Directors have the authority to adjust district-level guidelines to suit local conditions “and ensure the availability of medical, religious, and personal belief exemptions with regard to any prospective COVID-19 vaccine requirement.” Lastly, the Lucerne Valley USD requests Gov. Newsom clearly delineate what benchmarks must be met to end universal masking in classrooms.
The letter begins: “As Members of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District, we are proud to serve a diverse community in the Lucerne Valley Unified School District providing teachers, students, and parents with voice and choice in the type of educational opportunities available within the public school system. Our school community has been disrupted both academically and socio-emotionally by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our excellent faculty and staff were forced to make the transition to full remote learning, reimagine our educational delivery, shift staff into other positions for distance learning purposes, and adapt to a constantly changing educational environment.”
However, the letter states, “While we continue to focus on the well-being of our students and families, the pandemic remains a distraction from our educational mission. Moreover, the state’s adoption of masking mandates and consideration of vaccination mandates have introduced additional distractions.”
The letter concludes: “The Lucerne Valley Unified School District wants to provide safe, high-quality, in-person education to our students, transparency and access to parents and the community, and an environment in which teachers can focus on the needs of their students. We are asking for your support so we can continue to help students achieve academic success and fully realize their potential.”
On August 12th, the LVUSD approved resolution No. 2122-01 requesting California state officials give local educational agencies the authority on mask wearing mandates rather than such directives coming from the state.
Despite declining enrollment in many school districts across the state, the Lucerne Valley USD has grown to its largest student population in several years. Currently the small school district located in the rural unincorporated town of Lucerne Valley in California’s High Desert has nearly 1,000 students, up from 700 just a few years ago.