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No Action Taken During Soulsbyville School Board’s Special Meeting

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Soulsbyville, CA — The Soulsbyville School Board held a special meeting last night, a week after voting to no longer enforce state masking and vaccine requirements, and reduce the quarantine measures, come January 3rd.

The board broke into closed session to discuss a single item, “significant exposure to litigation” from “unknown potential cases.” It was in response to the earlier resolution.

Soulsbyville Superintendent Jeff Winfield confirms that no new action was taken by the board last night. It was a closed session, so he did not provide any additional comments.

Clarke Broadcasting reached out to some local school and health leaders who indicated that it could potentially be a somewhat challenging road ahead for the district.

Days before last night’s meeting the Tuolumne Joint Powers Authority, which provides group insurance coverage to 21 school districts in four counties (Tuolumne, Calaveras, Alpine and Amador) voted to deny Soulsbyville School District any funding related to “claims, costs or lawsuits” directly related to their COVID resolution.

The JPA Executive Director, Norma Wallace, adds, “Furthermore, the Soulsbyville School’s membership in the JPA will be reevaluated and recommended for revocation of JPA membership if the resolution is not rescinded before January 3, 2022.”

Going against the state mandates could create challenges for the district to receive insurance, as using a JPA allows districts to collectively come together and reduce overall costs. Wallace says the final JPA vote was 18 in favor and one abstention.

Dr. Eric Sergienko, Interim Tuolumne County Public Health Officer, says he spoke at the JPA meeting and highlighted both the “public health and legal foundations” for requiring masks and implementing quarantine measures.

In response to the Soulsbyville Board’s action, the California Department of Public Health also directed Clarke Broadcasting to a letter written by State Public Health Officer, Dr. Tomas Aragon, in August.

It reads in bold print, “Schools Face Substantial Legal, Financial, and Other Risks if They Do Not Follow the Mandatory Universal Masking Directive.”

It adds, “In light of the overwhelming evidence detailed above about the risks to students of not implementing the universal masking requirement, schools and school leaders involved in that decision could face significant financial liability if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19 in the absence of universal masking being enforced. Similar liability would exist if the refusal to implement the mask requirement causes a staff member to contract COVID-19.”

The resolution by Soulsbyville, approved 4-1 last week, noted that the board is elected to represent the students, and by extension, their families. You can read the full resolution by clicking here.

We reported earlier that a strong majority of parents at the school are opposed to masks and various vaccine directives.

83-percent of parent respondents in a district survey say they “infrequently to never mask their children in public” and do not believe that masks should be required. 11-percent reported being somewhere in the middle and 5-percent always have their kids mask in public and feel they should be required.

66-percent said they would not send their children to public school next year if vaccines are mandatory, 20-percent said they would, and 14-percent were unsure.

A survey of teachers showed that 53-percent support a vaccine mandate for all staff, 42-percent are opposed and five-percent have no opinion. 46-percent of the teachers support mandatory vaccinations for students, 42-percent are opposed and 12-percent have no opinion.

It is not immediately clear where the issue goes from here, or if there will be any additional actions by the board ahead of January 3.

Story Update: Soulsbyville Board Narrowly Votes To Rescind COVID Resolution