Parents, Teachers Protest Newport-Mesa Unified Mask, Vaccine Mandates

By Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.
December 16, 2021 Updated: December 17, 2021

COSTA MESA, Calif.—A group of parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens gathered in front of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District education center in Costa Mesa, California, on Dec. 14 to protest the continued masking of children within the schools and a possible vaccine mandate.

Of main concern was the current mask mandate in place for students, which comes from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), as well as the fear of a vaccine mandate coming for K–12 students.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Oct. 1 that K–12 students in public and private schools will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in 2022.

Parents said the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees, while not imposing any mandates of their own, is not doing enough to stand up to the state, listen to parents, and lead in the best interest of kids.

Whitney Huerta, a mother of two children in the district, said the board needs to leave the choice of vaccinating children up to the parents, not the government.

“I am absolutely against them telling me what I need to do with my children. They’re my children. It’s my choice. This is an experimental drug that already shows serious side effects, and I’m not willing to be a guinea pig,” Huerta told The Epoch Times.

A middle school teacher within the district who asked to be unnamed said that while she believes the school board is just doing what they’re told, they need to resist the state’s mandate and do what’s in the best interests of teachers, staff, and students.

“I don’t think the government should be in our business of what we have to do with our bodies. We should have freedom of choice,” she told The Epoch Times.

“What happened to scientific debate, discovery, argument, discussion? People … are just putting everyone else down who has a different narrative than the agenda they’re pushing.”

Danielle Mills, parent of two kids at a middle and high school within the district, said she’s strongly against making kids wear masks.

“I’m a little afraid of what is happening to all of the kids. The masks are bad because the kids can’t breathe. They’re not getting the oxygenation that they need. They’re having a hard time studying in school or being in class,” Mills told The Epoch Times.

“I’m anti-mask, but pro-choice. If someone wants to put their kid in a mask, by all means that is their choice. But I should be able to choose to not mask my kids.”

Mills said she’s concerned about the board being beholden to the state to continue receiving funds for the school district.

During the meeting, Superintendent Wesley Smith addressed the remarks.

“The Board recognizes that you are passionate about this and that you show up to every board meeting,” Smith said.

Smith also said the Newport-Mesa board has said they do not currently have any intention to add a vaccine mandate themselves and instead leave it up to the state.

“The federal funds aren’t compelling us to follow the mask mandate … It’s the CDPH mandate,” Smith said explaining that even if the mandates are not laws, the district is still required to follow them.

“We’re not saying it to law. We’ve shared the notice with folks that have asked for it that wanted to see that evidence that CDPH has mandated for districts … and then recently in San Diego, a judge affirmed that and said that districts absolutely are compelled to enforce the mask mandate. So even the courts have said whether it’s the law or not that districts are compelled to [the mask mandates],” Smith said.

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.