LAUSD parents hold protest against mask mandate; school district and UTLA continue negotiations

John Gregory Image
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
LAUSD parents hold protest against mask mandate
A group of parents who are upset about the continuing indoor mask-wearing mandate at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses rallied outside the teachers' union headquarters.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A group of parents who are upset about the continuing indoor mask-wearing mandate at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses rallied outside the teachers' union headquarters on Tuesday, demanding an end to the COVID-19 requirement that has already been lifted at most other schools statewide.

Chanting and holding signs with slogans such as "Stop child abuse,'' "My kid my choice'' and "Take masks off now,'' the parents cast blame on United Teachers Los Angeles for forcing the district to continue requiring masks indoors.

"Every other school district has managed to take the masks off. They put the kids first," parent Danna Rosenthal said at the demonstration. "The kids are put last here. They're not thinking about the kids, they're just only thinking about power and how they can hold onto it."

The union's labor contract for this semester requires COVID safety measures, including masks, and lifting the requirement is subject to union negotiations.

The state and Los Angeles County officially lifted the indoor mask-wearing requirement at schools on Saturday. The LAUSD, however, has kept the requirement in place, subject to labor talks with UTLA. Those talks are expected to resume Wednesday.

LAUSD is still mandating the masks, although Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Monday he supports eliminating the requirement.

LAUSD not ready to ditch mask mandate as LA County sees significant drop in COVID-19 cases

Starting Monday, many school districts throughout California will be ditching their mask mandates for students and teachers, but not L.A. Unified School District.

"I have and will continue to follow the science,'' Carvalho wrote on Twitter Monday morning. "I lifted outdoor masking upon arriving and am seeking same for indoor settings. Truth is that previous (labor) contract language prevents unilateral action.''

Carvalho issued a statement over the weekend saying the district is "working with labor partners ... to reach agreements that change indoor masking in schools from required to strongly recommended.''

UTLA issued a statement last month supporting masks in schools.

"LAUSD schools have been the safest and most well equipped in the country because educators and families united to demand critical health and safety protocols,'' according to the union. "These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families. It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.''

The outdoor mask-wearing requirement at LAUSD schools has already been lifted.

According to the county Department of Public Health, local schools continue to see a decline in the number of positive tests and test positivity for their students and staff. Between Feb. 28 and March 4, more than 470,000 tests were administered at K-12 schools across the county with 1,381 positive tests, resulting in a test positivity rate of 0.3%.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has dropped dramatically over the past month. According to state figures, there were 501 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Tuesday, with 91 of them in intensive care.

The hospitalization number has been declining steadily since reaching more than 4,800 in mid-January, at the height of the Omicron-fueled winter surge.

City News Service contributed to this report.