SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - Holding signs and banners, students with their parents were outside Santa Ynez High School before class Wednesday morning protesting the mask mandate that remains for schools.
"They're the least vulnerable in our community but we have put the most mandates and restrictions on the kids," parent Kathryn Bailey said. "I think it's ridiculous they've put masks on our kids for two whole years."
California lifted the statewide indoor mask mandate at 12:01 a.m. with Santa Barbara County aligning with the state rules and dropping it's mask mandate. But for K-12 schools the mandate remains. The high school students who attended the protest say they're done wearing masks indoors and are urging state and local leaders to lift the mandate.
"It's 100% hypocritical," another parent told us. "When all the politicians and celebrities all over California are not wearing a mask yet we strap them on our kids for hour upon hours every day for no reason."
Students pointed to the Super Bowl, where politicians, celebrities and 70,000 people watched the game at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Most of the crowd was seen without masks.
Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Superintendent Andrew Schwab said that the district is continuing to follow the requirements of state and local public health departments on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus – which includes indoor masking at this time.
"We all see and feel the impacts and strain of the pandemic, both here locally and across the nation. I appreciate that there are diverse perspectives on how to best navigate through the many challenges we have all faced. I am always open to parent and student input on maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for our staff and students," Schwab said.
"Our layered mitigation strategies have allowed our classrooms to remain open for in-person learning throughout the school year, including during the most recent Omicron surge."
State public health officials said on Monday that they will reassess masking in K-12 school settings on Feb. 28 after evaluating COVID-19 case rate, hospitalization, and testing positivity data.
Schwab said that the district will reassess the masking requirement following the state's decision.