Voters in San Francisco recalled three members of the school board on Tuesday following a tumultuous period that included fights over remote learning, renaming schools, a First Amendment lawsuit and changes to the admissions process at the city's most elite public high school. Early results showed that voters overwhelmingly supported removing the three members of the board, with people voting yes in each measure by at least 72%.
School Board President Gabriela Lopez, Commissioner Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison M. Collins lost their seats on the seven member panel. Moliga conceded, and Lopez vowed to run again in November.
Mayor London Breed had supported the recall while she
had questioned the school board's priorities. In January 2021, it spent time debating a plan to rename 44 public schools - among them those named for Abraham Lincoln, and current U.S. Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. Breed, at the time, said she could not understand "why the school board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn't a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then."
Near the end of the report, NPR acknowledges "Breed will now select three new commissioners to fill the new vacancies." That might have had something to do with her support, especially given that the Mayor has not opposed renaming schools, at one point remarking "this is an important conversation to have." Sadly, the school board played into the hands of the opportunistic mayor as it tried to rush its plan into effect. A rookie mistake.
Getting schools completely reopened is an immensely difficult, but not insurmountable, problem. And the solution should not involve mandatory, universal masking.
Since October, covid-19 vaccines have been required for all schoolchildren in California, absent (according to The New York Times) a "personal or religious" objection (the latter a loophole to drive a Dodge Ram through). Nonetheless, as of a couple of weeks ago, slightly fewer than two-thirds of 12- to 17-year old youngsters, and only one-fourth of elementary school children, had been fully vaccinated.
That owes in part to the reticence of many parents. Additionally, vaccines for older children come in vials with six doses, and pediatric vaccines come in vials with 10 doses which must be administered in a 12-hour period. And there is an insufficient number of sites which administer vaccines to young people.
Nonetheless, that problem probably would be overcome if there were a commitment, absent despite the bill signed by Governor Newsome in October, to vaccination. Every child would have to be vaccinated. Those who secure an exemption would be excused but would have to wear a mask. Vaccines for the young would become widely available.
It would not be simple to require most, but not all, children to wear a mask, and California legislators and the governor would have made it easier if they had excluded the religious exemption. (I'm waiting to learn of the religion that forbids masks or recommends death by communicable virus.) Numerous other vaccines are required for all schoolchildren without a medical objection.
California should require children who are not vaccinated to wear masks. Others, whose parents are responsible enough to get their children vaccinated, should not be penalized. Wearing masks is not conducive to learning. It was necessary sans vaccination. If we were serious, it would not be now.