LA County superintendents want County to change COVID close contact masking policy

A group of 24 Los Angeles County superintendents signed and sent a letter to the LA County Department of Public Health, requesting the department align with the State on its policy of 10-day indoor masking of close contacts with COVID-19.

Currently, LA County has a mandate in place requiring people who are in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to wear a highly protective mask around others for 10 days.

Alex Cherniss, the Superintendent of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, wrote the letter, and 24 of the 80 superintendents in LA County signed it to be sent to Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

"Once again, we're asking for common sense safety and security protocols so we're able to effectively run our schools. Students that are asymptomatic, and don't have COVID at all are being required to wear a mask for 10 days, and it causes problems for us," Cherniss said. "We don't want to be the mask police. We think it's hard to manage and it's unnecessary so we're asking the county to align with the state."

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The state currently recommends masking for 10 days in close contact cases versus requiring it.

"Here we are, once again with the state recommending masking, but not requiring it and here we are with the county making it a requirement. We have no objection to Dr. Ferrer and the Health Department making recommendations. Our issue is they have gone once again one step ahead and made a requirement that the state of California has not made so we just don't want it required for all kids," said Cherniss.

The 24 superintendents who signed the letter represent over 100,000 students in LA County.

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Suverna Mistry, who is a parent of two kids in the Newhall School District, and is also running for the school board for the district, believes the mask mandate is not a good idea.

"I think it's great the superintendents have taken a stand. We all have had that opportunity to get our vaccinations. Everyone has the opportunity to do the one way masking. I think it's ridiculous for LA county to go rogue and be the only county in the state having this close contact requirement," said Mistry.

She said she and other parents want what's best for their children.

"It's absolutely not just a rogue group of small, anti-masker parents. It's been an ongoing battle. The children have suffered enough. They are at the least at risk, and they have taken the most burden of the pandemic and it's time to move on," she said. "Like I said before, people had the chance to get their vaccines. If you want to wear an N-95 to protect yourself, you're more than welcome to."

Mistry said she is hoping Dr. Ferrer will align with the state.

"It's really surprising and shocking that LA County seems to be the only one that persists on these mandates. I just really hope Barbara Ferrer aligns with the state and stops the madness of this masking policy," said Mistry.

However, Nidya, who is also a parent, believes masking keeps kids safe in schools, and she believes the mandate will ultimately help keep children learning in the classroom instead of returning to distance learning.

"I think it's a good idea to do that [masking] with the kids because we have a lot of problems right now with COVID for the last three years. Our kids were not attending school so they're at home, and they're not doing good," she said.

FOX 11 has reached out to the LA Department of Public Health for comment, but has not yet received a response.

The districts whose superintendents have signed onto Cherniss' letter include: 

  • Bellflower Unified School District
  • Burbank Unified School District
  • Castaic Union School District
  • Covina-Valley Unified School District
  • Downey Unified School District
  • El Segundo Unified School District
  • Hermosa Beach City School District
  • La Cañada Unified School District
  • Lancaster School District
  • Las Virgenes Unified School District
  • Manhattan Beach Unified School District
  • Monrovia Unified School District
  • Montebello Unified School District
  • Newhall School District
  • Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
  • Redondo Beach Unified
  • Rowland Unified School District
  • San Marino Unified School District
  • Saugus Union School District
  • South Pasadena Unified
  • Sulphur Springs Union School District
  • Temple City Unified School District
  • William S. Hart Union High School District
  • Wiseburn Unified School District