El Dorado County supervisors approve ‘no mask’ resolution

Chris Daley
Mountain Democrat
Opponents of mask mandates fill El Dorado County Board of Supervisors chambers Tuesday morning as a resolution supporting no masks in schools was approved. (Mountain Democrat photo by Eric Jaramishian)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County leaders intend to support residents opposing mask mandates and especially “no masks for kids” in school. Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a resolution to that effect during their June 29 meeting.

Offered by District 2 Supervisor George Turnboo, supervisors indicated their backing of the resolution while acknowledging concerns with some of the language and focus as read into the record by Turnboo. They generally agreed not to “wordsmith” the resolution while indicating a need for changes before final adoption.

A standing-room-only audience held handmade signs bearing numerous variations of “Let the children breathe,” “Protect our rights,” “No mask mandate for kids,” “… (no) nanny state” and “Recall Gov. Newsom.” The group totaled over 100 people, which included parents, grandparents, elementary school students and toddlers in strollers. Several dozen wanted to address the board and began lining up for a turn at the podium.

First in line was Lindsay Moffett, mother of three children attending Sierra Elementary. “We as parents are the advocates for our children,” Moffett said. “We are the ones who should be deciding what is best for them.”

Board Chairman, District 1’s John Hidahl, asked for “decorum,” which precludes clapping or “hooting” in support of points noted by speakers. He repeated the admonition a number of times.

Hidahl also clarified that many of the rules governing community and school district compliance to public health mandates are beyond the jurisdiction of the county. Instead, it is primarily at the state or school district level, and the county, therefore, has little or no power over those entities.

The nearly year-long conflict between parents and their local schools regarding mask mandates has emphasized parental rights over their kids’ physical and mental health decisions against a school system’s more universal “community” perspective.

Turnboo said that “parents should have the right to determine the (health benefit or harm) to their children” and noted “a child has the right to an attorney.”

Later in the session Turnboo shared his own experience, comparing breathing with a mask and without a mask during a clinical breathing exam. He described a 5-6% decrease in breathing efficiency, thus more “restricted breathing” when wearing a mask.

A significant percentage of the speakers, mostly mothers, described the difficulty their children with autism or other educational “special needs” have experienced, not only with having to mask, but bullying by school staff and other students making fun if a child can’t comply.

Several parents cited studies showing degrees of restricted breathing due to the mask being worn during physical education or playtime. Others noted some research clearly indicates children are at low risk of contracting COVID-19 and represent a minimal threat to others.

A speech and reading teacher noted the importance of visibility of both a student’s and teacher’s mouth and face for effective reading and speaking, especially in primary grades.

A Union Mine High School student told supervisors she was “kicked out” of at least two classes during the year because she was unable to wear a mask due to severe health reactions.

Mike Wilkes, business/information technology teacher at Ponderosa High School, said he and others at the school oppose mask mandates.

District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel was the sole no vote.

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