By Sarah Sikandar
Signal Staff Writer
When 18-year-old Mia Citarella woke up for school on Tuesday, she knew it would be a different day for her. She had told her father, Jerry Citarella, she can’t wear a mask anymore and she’s going to resist.
Fifteen minutes into her day, she found herself at the vice principal’s office at Saugus High School after her teacher refused to let her stay in class without a mask on.
“Already in the principal’s office,” she messaged her father, “he’s calling you.”
Jerry responded, “ridiculous,” and decided he’d go to the school to support his daughter — then she messaged him not to come.
“Don’t come get me,” Mia replied, “My other classes don’t make me wear a mask.”
The text messages and other details were shared by Jerry, a financial advisor by profession, on social media where he also expressed joy over raising a strong daughter, as well as his frustration over the district giving precedence to rules over students’ mental and physical well-being.
As the country eases back into a pre-COVID-19 normalcy, states are rethinking mask mandates. Many parents have expressed frustrations over continuing mask mandates in school, and concerns over the long-term social and emotional impacts of wearing masks through the school day.
This week, the state and L.A. County announced they were pulling back from outdoor mask mandates at schools — but the indoor masking requirements, for now, remain in place.
Citarella concedes that school districts are following state rules, “no matter how ridiculous, because they don’t want to lose state funding.” He said his daughter had lost weight and has been anxious for over six months, “but the district doesn’t care. They’re doing what they’re told without any true justification, and a lot of damage.”
Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said schools follow guidelines laid out by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. “As you know, mask requirements are still in place for schools. We obviously require staff and students to wear masks.”
Caldwell declined to comment on individual cases, reiterating that school administrations have to follow state and country guidelines.
Jerry said he planned to attend the Hart district governing board meeting Wednesday with data and to express his opposition to masks in schools. “If it was necessary, I’d support it. But the science here, and politicians have proven to be wrong.”