TUSD holds special meeting after incident with trustee mask

The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss a resolution outlining expectations for board meetings in the presence of the students. This special session follows the two student board representatives who had to leave the previous session because board member Jeffery Cortinas and others are not wearing a mask mandated by the state health department.

The resolution encourages students to attend board meetings in compliance with all current guidelines and requirements of Cal / OSHA, the Public Health Officer, and the California Department of Public Health.

The mandate that everyone must wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, was lifted two weeks ago in Stanislaus County. These guidelines also require that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, be on public transport and in transport hubs, K-12 schools and childcare facilities, emergency shelters and refrigeration centers, health care, correctional and detention centers, homeless shelters, long-term care, and adult and elderly care facilities.

Both student representatives, Kate Ogden and Bella Kern, expressed disappointment that they were forced to leave the meeting because Cortinas and others were not following state guidelines. After discussing the resolution, they are concerned that they may be forced to stop attending board meetings in person.

“The board has been very proactive and flexible with all of the constant changes due to COVID, so I am not surprised that they are already looking for a solution that does justice to both sides.” Ogden said, “Unfortunately this solution will likely lead to that we zoom in, which I don’t blame them for, they’re just trying to protect us. It is unfortunate that they are being forced to make difficult decisions like this because the community members do not make safety a priority. If we have to zoom in, I’ll happily accept this decision as long as I’m committed to my school and doing my job. The face-to-face board meetings were a highlight of my senior year, but if I have to stay home to give my report it will be disappointing, yes; but at least in a way I will still be there. “

Cortinas claimed he did not understand why the student representatives were forced to leave when there were other students in the audience. The TUSD administrators made it clear that the other students were not present in an official capacity and were supervised by parents or guardians. Cortinas also urged the board to discuss enforcing government mandates, and it seems that the board felt that just that was necessary.

“If we need to talk about masks and the enforcement of current laws, the district should have brought this to the board for an open and honest discussion,” he said after the incident.

The special meeting of the TUSD Board of Trustees will take place on Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the Professional Development Center, 1100 Cahill Ave., Turlock. The meetings are open to the public. Meetings are also streamed live and recorded and can be viewed at: http://www.turlock.k12.ca.us/virtualboardmeetings.

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