Masks required at Clovis Unified schools unless a doctor signs off on student's exemption

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A revised version of the Clovis Unified School District's COVID Safety Plan was presented at Wednesday night's board meeting that aligns with state mandates and will require a doctor evaluation for kids to receive an exception from wearing a mask.

"This is not going to work for a lot of people in this district," said one parent during public comment.

Several Clovis Unified parents kept the commentary coming during the district board meeting.

"I will not be sending any of my kids to school with masks," another said.

Up until last week, the district had said parents could fill out a form that would exempt their child from wearing a mask for physical or mental health reasons.

After criticism from parents pushing for masks to be worn and a six-page letter from Valley Children's Hospital CEO Todd Suntrapak about neglecting the severity of the virus, district officials said clarification from the state led them to require a doctor's signature before students can be exempt from wearing a mask.

"About the 5.5% of parents who had requested exemptions or filed exemption paperwork, we contacted them directly to let them know," said Kelly Avants, spokesperson for CUSD.

If an exemption form is not submitted to the district before the first day of school Monday, students will be expected to mask up until the exemption form is submitted.

"Until you have an exemption that has a medical verification on file with it, then it's not truly an exemption and you would need to comply with the face-covering requirement," said Avants.

For some, stricter exemptions are welcomed news.

"We do have students who are unable to wear them and we know that, but we would like to limit the number of students who just don't want to wear them," said Kristin Heimerdinger, spokesperson for the Association of Clovis Educators.

Heimerdinger is thrilled to be back in her classroom with high school students and hopes masks will help keep it that way.

"Our next challenge then is keeping them in class, keeping the teachers in class, and keeping support staff there to help support them," she said.
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