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Soulsbyville Board Narrowly Votes To Rescind COVID Resolution

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Soulsbyville, CA — The Soulsbyville School Board spent five hours Wednesday evening hearing from parents, staff and other community members about whether to do away with state COVID-19 requirements related to masking, vaccine mandates and quarantine protocols.

There was a whole spectrum of opinions voiced, ranging from parents concerned about negative social impacts of COVID requirements on students, health leaders noting the positives of protocols, teachers concerned about consequences if they are directed to not follow the state law, families who may move their kids to the district in support of no masking, to parents upset about school administration recently calling law enforcement after some kids were refusing to wear masks.

Near the end of the meeting the board was first asked whether to pass a revised resolution that does not do away with COVID requirements, but basically asks the state to revise the current policies in place. Some board members voiced concerns that they had not actually written the revised resolution, and it was simply put together by the district’s attorney, and placed in front of them. The vote was 3-2 opposed to passing it. Board members Timothy Morton and Heather Spangler were in favor of approving it, and Dena Canaday, James Evans and Josh Milbourn were against it.

The board, facing a potential lawsuit from the California Teachers Association, and a threat over its insurance coverage from the Tuolumne JPA, then voted 3-2 to rescind the earlier approved December 13 COVID resolution that would have ended the masking, quarantine and vaccine policies. Milbourn joined Morton and Spangler in favor of rescinding it, and Canaday and Evans were opposed.

A majority of the board then asked Superintendent Jeff Winfield to try to schedule a meeting within the next week with members of the California Teachers Association and the Tuolumne JPA so that the board can hear their concerns about COVID protocols and to develop a plan moving forward.

Board member James Evans stressed to Superintendent Winfield, “I think the message (to parents) should be that the board chose to rescind the current action and is actively meeting with counsel and experts on our options in these matters.”

Last night’s marathon meeting was held in the Soulsbyville gym and also streamed on Zoom.