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Parent group protests mask and vaccine mandate for students

A group of parents carry signs against the mask mandates for their children in school at the Saugus Union School District Office in Valencia on Tuesday, 081021. Dan Watson/The Signal
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About 30 people gathered outside the Saugus Union School District’s office Tuesday morning to protest COVID-19 vaccination and indoor-masking mandates for children enrolled in public schools. 

Parents shared their stories in the parking lot in front of the building. 

Local parent Martha Aguilera led much of the discussion during the protest. She said she once thought of vaccine mandates as safety issues instead of issues of freedom. 

A group of parents and children demonstrate against mask mandates for their children in school during a demonstration at the Saugus Union School District Office in Valencia on Tuesday, 081021. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I gave birth to this child. I get to make the decisions for this child. And I live in a country that’s supposed to allow me to do that,” she said. 

Saugus Union School District officials have previously stated that its policies are in accordance with state and county Public Health policies.  

In a statement sent to parents last month, Superintendent Colleen Hawkins pointed out that most of the district’s student population is still ineligible to receive the vaccine. The Saugus district follows all state health and safety codes related to immunizations required for school enrollment, but as there is no vaccine for COVID-19 for elementary-age children, the district has not indicated that COVID-19 vaccines are required for students at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Public Health mask mandate would continue to apply. 

Patrick Enman, left, and Jasmine Contreras sign up for the mailing list during a demonstration against mandatory masks for children in school at the Saugus Union School District Office in Valencia on Tuesday, 081021. Dan Watson/The Signal

Aguilera held a sign encouraging viewers to explore a section of federal code entitled, “Authorization for medical products for use in emergencies.” 

She and other protesters said this code makes vaccination and masking mandates unconstitutional once the COVID-19 emergency ends, which she said has happened. 

“There is no crisis. The crisis is over,” she said of the pandemic. 

Many attendees also held signs calling for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newson, which California voters will get to decide on Sept. 14. 

Cindy Josten, left, and Martha Aguilera speak against mask mandates in schools at the Saugus Union School District Office in Valencia on Tuesday, 081021. Dan Watson/The Signal

Despite discussion of the recall election and a variety of other conservative issues, Aguilera said that opposition to a vaccination and masking mandate is a non-partisan matter. 

“It’s an American issue. We have a right to make decisions for our kids,” she said, noting she’s organizing an effort to encourage parents to pull their students from local public schools to start a homeschool enrichment program. 

Kristen Kring recently pulled her four children from the Saugus Union School District. She said she’s had other issues with the district, including disagreements over curriculum and how the district has addressed her twins with autism. 

A mother creates a sign as she joins a group of parents and children during a demonstration against mandatory masks for children in school at the Saugus Union School District on Tuesday, 081021. Dan Watson/The Signal

“The mask is a very small reason,” she said. “It really it goes bigger and deeper than that.” 

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