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Shortage of Teachers Force School Closure Just Weeks After Lifting Student Mask Mandate

Due to a shortage of teachers, Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, California, announced its closure on its website. The announcement follows the school district’s board’s decision on Tuesday to no longer require students to wear masks, CBS 13 reported.

According to Newsweek, hundreds of students watched a film at a school theater instead of being in a classroom on Wednesday, as teachers were absent as well.

“Our problem is not about masking, rather it is that our school board voted in direct violation of our MOU [agreements] with them and disregarded the collective bargaining process,” said Nevada Joint Union High School Teachers Association President Eric Mayer.

Mayer wrote in an open letter published Thursday, “The resolution to change mask enforcement was passed. Teachers present in the room and on Zoom were shocked because this directly violated the agreements the board approved with both the teachers’ union and the classified employees’ union.”

According to him, those agreements require masks in indoor settings, and “if any changes in masking requirements were handed down by state officials, we would renegotiate the agreement at that time.”

Masks are required indoors in all California K-12 schools under the state’s mask-wearing guidelines.

According to Mayer, the association met with administrators on Friday in an attempt to get teachers back on campus on Monday.

“We did come up with a set of assurances and actions by the district that they are working to clarify to offer teachers with the goal of opening on Monday,” he stated.

Read More: Black-owned Businesses Receives $10k Grants from Capital One 

A letter sent out by the school’s principal reads that Principal Kelly Rhoden is working with the district administration and the teachers union to resolve the issue, according to KCRA 3.

“It is our top priority to get students back in the classroom to further their education as soon as possible. We will be working closely with the teachers union and the district administration to find a quick resolution to our current situation,” Rhoden continued.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and support as we work through these challenges.”

The state lifted its mandate on wearing masks for fully vaccinated individuals, but students and staff at schools remain required to do so.

Many schools sent students home if they did not adhere to the requirement, even though some districts defied the mandate and made mask wearing optional. State officials are expected to review the mask mandate for schools on Monday.

“Teachers have called out because I think we’re being put in a plausible position of either disobeying our district or disobeying the state mandate. And our credential is dependent on upholding the law,” Mayor said, as reported by KCRA 3.

The superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, Brett McFadden, emphasized that the mask policy needed to be changed.

“We began to experience significant civil disobedience by that of students and parents,” he explained to CBS 13.

“The enforcement ability of the mask mandate came to a point where it was untenable.”

The California Department of Education allows students 180 days of instruction per year. Schools that fail to meet this requirement may lose state funding.

Students at the high school complained that there were not enough teachers in the classrooms. Students have noted that it has been difficult to adapt to the changes in the school’s response to COVID.

“It’s just been stressful as a student. It’s hard with distance learning and then you come back to school and then you’re distanced and then you have to wear a mask, too now, but kids aren’t comfortable with wearing a mask. Being put in the middle of just trying to learn makes it tough,” said 11th grader James Kinney disclosed.

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