11.03.2021

No Mask Monday, Walkouts Hurt School (Please Read, Important Info)

Mask Mandate Walkouts Hurts Schools

October 30, 2021

Dear iLEAD Agua Dulce Families,

It has come to our attention that many families are planning a No Mask Monday, as well as another school walk out this month and every month until the mask mandate lifts. We do understand and empathize that all families have their own viewpoint and beliefs in regards to the mask mandate and we respect those opinions.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requires universal masking indoors at TK-12 schools. This public health directive from CDPH carries the force of law while California remains in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the Governor or Legislature may lift the state of emergency. And they have not done so. It is mandatory for schools to implement the CDPH guidance; schools do not have discretion to opt-out from enforcing the mask requirement.

iLEAD’s policy adheres to CDPH guidance, which directs schools here to offer alternative educational opportunities (independent study) for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering. There are numerous potential legal consequences, outlined by CDPH here, if schools and teachers were to fail to enforce the masking requirement.

On a personal note, we proudly opened our amazing school in 2018 in only eight weeks after getting our charter approved. We worked hard as a staff and family community to make our campus environment family-oriented where all voices are heard. We have done an exceptional job receiving national accolades for our outdoor classroom, acquiring top accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, creating amazing spaces for all learners including our Makery, Exploratorium, implementing animals and growing a high school. Our 8th graders were pilots on real gliders, we sent experiments to the International Space Station and our learners presented to NASA. Our second graders made a difference by presenting to the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s office to add optical speed bumps in front of the school to keep it safe — and there is so much more. In addition, our learners gain many important experiences and are connected with experts in a variety of fields to become more globally aware. Because our community wanted our school to succeed, we were able to do this in a very short time. Our families are an integral part of our program.

It is also important to know that our school is a small public charter school. Each day your child is absent, regardless of the reason, the state does not provide our school with funds. Each walk-out hurts our campus, our staff and your children. While we feel the impact at the local level, the state saves money by keeping those funds. Funding pays our staff salaries and funding is what is needed to provide for our learners. We have a budget that is built around our average daily attendance rate. If we fall below this target, we will have to lay off staff, which will impact all of our programs.

Let me say this simply and directly: These absences are hurting our school, not the county or state. No matter how you feel about this issue, I hope you’ll create change by writing or visiting your representative and exercising your right to freedom with your vote and voice — not by withholding your learners which, in fact, saves the state money and penalizes iLEAD Agua Dulce.

Our school, families and especially our learners mean the world to all of us and we cannot put it in jeopardy by going against the Los Angeles County and California State orders. I hope you can understand the position in which we find ourselves. We hope you will continue sending your learners every day to ensure they don’t miss a moment of the education they deserve.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

All my best,

Lisa Latimer

Director

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