By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
District Outlines Actions In Response To Protests

Secondary students choosing to go to school without masks won’t have the option of an alternate site for learning effective Monday, Feb. 7 in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

The announcement by the school district comes following three days of protestors congregating outside the Oakdale Joint Unified School District office on South Third Avenue late last week. On Thursday, some students walked off campus to join the protest that began the day before at the district office, part of the ‘Let Them Breathe’ effort, seeking a rescinding of the mask mandate.

District Superintendent Dr. Dave Kline wrote a letter on behalf of the district over the weekend, posting it to the OJUSD site.

The letter, dated Feb. 6, is addressed to “Dear OJUSD Families” and indicates that the district won’t make allowances for the junior and senior high school students arriving on campus without masks.

“Students who refuse to mask will not be allowed in classrooms and will be referred up to the office. Starting this week at both the junior high and the high school, no alternative settings will be provided and no work will be given to those who continue to protest,” Kline wrote. “At the elementary levels, alternative settings will possibly continue for this week and work will still be provided, but this is a temporary measure. If this accommodation becomes unsustainable this week for any reason, we will inform parents immediately.”

The superintendent also reiterated that the school district is enforcing the guidelines handed down per the state and the California Department of Public Health and recommended people take their protest elsewhere.

“Students who wish to protest the mask mandate are asked to enroll in our District’s Independent Study program, and we also suggest that further protests are directed to Sacramento,” he said.

Along with announcing the plan for dealing with possible continued protests, Kline offered a thanks to those abiding by the current guidelines.

“We’d like to thank parents and the over 5000 students who have come to school masked and ready to learn in the past week. Thank you for helping us preserve the educational sanctity of our classrooms,” Kline wrote in the letter. “Starting on Monday, February 7, 2022, Oakdale Joint Unified School District is asking that all students attend their regular classes wearing masks, as required by the California Department of Public Health which has mandated universal masking in our schools. Remaining unmasked is not an option at this time.”

It also was announced that, due to escalating threats against masked students, staff and board members, there is the possibility that the Monday night, Feb. 7 meeting may be postponed.

“On Friday, a father directly threatened both male and female staff members with such fury that we are working with Oakdale Police regarding this matter. Students are being regularly bullied for wearing masks by both fellow students and others,” noted Kline. “People have made it clear over social media, email, and in person that their verbal threats will become physical if they don’t get their way.”

Adding that the district won’t tolerate bullying from students or adults, Kline also said they plan to focus on upholding the district mission statement of Teach, Learn, Every Day, No Excuses.

And while the district has asked for local control over COVID 19 protocols, that permission has yet to be given so Kline said the district is doing what it is “legally bound” to do – uphold the mandate.

“We have thousands of students who want to be in class and learning at the high level our community expects. We cannot allow the action of a small cadre of people to impede the learning of these many students and the work of the entire district,” Kline summarized. “Thank you again to all the families and students who are continuing to follow the rules and continuing to support our staff during this difficult time.”