AUSD Superintendent Addresses Parents Concerns Over Vaccine Mandate •

In a letter to parents, the superintendent for AUSD explains that they are working on new guidelines and can assure them their students will not be forced to receive the vaccine.

Parents who oppose vaccinations for their children have been encouraged to drop off the required paperwork at school. The US-DHS has also clarified that, if parents do not comply with this mandate, their child’s vaccination record will remain confidential.

“The LAUSD superintendent has said that parents can request a vaccine exemption for their children if they have religious or medical reasons.”

The Board receives the Atascadero District Teacher’s Association’s Initial Bargaining Proposal for 2021-2022 from AUSD. 

ATASCADERO — ATASCADERO — ATASCADERO — On Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m., the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) had their regularly scheduled School Board of Trustees meeting, with nothing to report from private session.

President of the Board of Directors George Shoemaker requested everyone in the room to put on a mask, then asked again. He then requested a member of the crowd to put on a mask. The lady, who looked to be at least 10 feet distant from the closest participant in the live-stream footage, refused to put on a mask. She agreed to wait outside until her name was called for public remark.

Candy Smet, Executive Director of Technology, and Brian Miller, Network Coordinator, then took the platform to deliver a grant of roughly 1.5 million dollars for new technology and equipment, including the purchase of Chrome Books for kids to use at home.

We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero

Gabriela Pullen, a student representative from Atascadero High School (AHS), delivered a monthly report. She reported on a well-attended Homecoming Dance, which drew over 700 kids. The Marching Band, which has increased in size from 60 members last year to 74 this year, just completed a successful Band Camp. They also performed at the Pioneer Day Parade, the Colony Days Parade, and the Homecoming football game. On October 23-24, the Model United Nations will hold its first virtual conference of the year, discussing strategies to promote equitable access to education in Afghanistan, with a focus on humanitarian help for women and girls. On September 10, the AHS Choir sang the national anthem at AHS’s Patriots’ Day Assembly, as well as at Atascadero City’s Patriot Day Memorial on September 11. They are now permitted to sing inside again, as long as they wear masks.

The board then recognized and accepted a $1,000 donation from the Atascadero Rotary Club to Mary Reynolds, Principal of Creston Elementary School, and a $500 donation from Josh Donovan, owner of Give Fitness, to the AHS physical education department for Mr. Spiller, as well as 60 one-month gym memberships.

San Benito Elementary School is a Gold-Level, Green-Ribbon school, according to Kat Holmes, and was just ranked one of the top elementary schools by U.S. News & World Report.

The public was then allowed to participate in Oral Communication.

Darcy Kristy was the first to speak, thanking the Board for their openness to the public. She gave an update on a petition opposing the vaccination requirement that had been sent to parents in the district, stating that it had received 1,208 signatures. Many of the persons on the list, she said, had already been vaccinated. She also said that between 20 and 30 percent of parents are prepared to leave the area if a vaccination requirement is implemented.

“As thrilled as we are with this district, we’re ready to leave the public school system,” Kristy said. “I like this district, and I adore the instructors, but it’s time to move on.”

Rebekah Koznek was the next to speak, and she agreed with the previous speaker. She said she went to a “anti-mandate event” in San Luis Obispo on Monday, which drew around 250 people. Many individuals who had been vaccinated but did not favor vaccination mandates were there, she said. She also expressed alarm about the increase in bullying at Atascadero schools.

Next up was AHS teacher Robin Dery, who began by stating, “I’d want to have a regular year.” She wanted to bring attention to some of the issues that instructors are dealing with and discussing. Her initial issue was the installation of “late start” this year and the scheduling problems it has created for children in sports programs.

“We didn’t push back our sports engagements in tandem, so we have a lot of athletes missing 6th and 7th period classes because the sports are still going on at the same time, but the school day is ending much later, so they’re missing a lot more school, and there’s really no coherent plan in place for them to make up that missed instruction or missed assessments.”

She also said that the school used to have an early Friday dismissal, which was beneficial for kids participating in the many sports activities that take place on Friday afternoons, often out of town. Fridays were changed from “Early Release” to “Late Start” this year, generating even more schedule issues for these pupils.

Jennifer Neiswanger, another AHS teacher, took the stage next.

“I like our school, and I adore our district,” Neiswanger added. “Both Robin and I are deeply committed to assisting our children and instructors so that we may all succeed together.”

She said that quarantine regulations have been a significant issue for both instructors and pupils, and that there is presently no strategy in place to assist children who have been isolated for 10 days. She spoke about working on weekends and over her lunch break to assist these students catch up.

“I care about these kids and am prepared to go to any length to help them, but I know there’s a better way.”

Krista Abma was the next to speak, and she inquired as to why middle school kids do not have Chrome Books but high school and elementary school students have. She praised the board for not embracing Critical Race Theory and then voiced her worry about rumors that Aeries Parent Portal is adding a COVID-19 component, requiring children to acquire a vaccination booster every six months in order to be deemed fully vaccinated.

“None of it makes sense,” Abma said, “and I know you’ve been fighting for our kids—just Atascadero’s amazing for caring for our students where so many other school districts just gloss over it, so I just want to say thank you for supporting our students, and if you weren’t aware of it, to maybe check on this Aeries system, and if it’s something they’re putting into effect, to find a different system so that we can continue to stand

Damon Meeks was the next to speak, thanking the AUSD board, instructors, and the Technology Services Department. Meeks expressed his disapproval of Critical Race Theory and praised the board for opposing it. He also expressed his objection to the vaccination requirement, stating that he would want the board to battle it for at least 7-10 years before deeming it an acceptable period of time to investigate the long-term impacts.

The next speaker, Dr. J.D. Megasun, started by thanking the board. He spoke out against the “heinous and heartless character of Governor Newsom’s mandate,” saying that “apart from insulting parents’ rights to be the first guardians of their children’s health, he is inadvertently exposing our children to probable danger.” He then went on to detail a lengthy list of vaccination adverse effects, many of which were cardiac in nature and would need the services of a pediatric cardiologist. He said that our county presently has one pediatric cardiologist whose office is open one day a week in San Luis Obispo but whose major practice is in Bakersfield, and that he does not have privileges to practice at any of the county’s hospitals.

“Our County, like many other rural counties, is not equipped to offer medical treatment for these vaccine-related adverse events,” Megasun stated.

“Finally, when I arrived here tonight, I discovered a really troubling issue,” Megasun stated. “I was told that a guy by the name of Mr. B was using pornography in a sixth-grade class, and that children saw and heard the pornography, and that the parents were unaware of the issue… I’m hoping you’ll make sure Mr. B doesn’t end up teaching at any other school in the district. I’ll be there with protest placards and pamphlets if I find out he’s doing it.”

The next speaker’s name was incomprehensible, but she addressed the previous speaker’s worry about the Middle School instructor.

“That was my son’s classroom,” she said. “And I wasn’t even informed.” I had to ask my kid about it. I didn’t get an email or any other notification about what transpired that day in the classroom with my kid. I had to do my own investigation to learn more about what had occurred.”

The speaker’s main worry was the lack of contact from Atascadero Middle School to parents of kids in terms of informing them of what was going on at school.

“I’m in all the districts, and they are all so jealous of Atascadero,” Stacy Emak, the lady who had been forced to leave the room, spoke next, praising the board and saying, “I’m in all the districts, and they are all so jealous of Atascadero.” Thank you for what you’re doing.”

“That circumstance is not right,” she said, referring to her exclusion from the room. If someone is unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, being viewed as a second-class citizen is clearly an ADA violation. I’m not the one you have to be concerned about, but someone else could, and I’d hate for it to become an issue.”

Emak predicted that after the vaccinations are required for children, workers would be required to receive them as well, causing AUSD to lose a large number of personnel, “and I don’t believe your district can really withstand that.”

The Superintendent’s Report was the next item on the agenda. Superintendent Tom Butler expressed gratitude to the technology department for securing the aforementioned increased technological money. He complimented Pullen for speaking about the High School, as well as Holmes and the San Benito Elementary teachers. He then went on to talk about the encounter with the Middle School instructor and the suspected usage of pornography in class.

“I can reassure our community that the student quickly reported it.” We called the Atascadero Police Department right away. We take these matters very seriously, and we make every effort to contact any student who was involved. We usually do this in collaboration with the Police Department to determine which students may have been affected, but if there are other families, I would be happy to speak with them directly, so please feel free to call.”

Following that, Butler gave an update on COVID-19. I appreciate everyone coming down to talk about it with me. We have yet to get any formal communication, and we are still waiting. I entered this industry with the intention of assisting every child I could, and I continue to do so.

According to Butler, there were a lot of positive COVID instances in the first week, but then they leveled out.

Butler gave data over the previous four weeks. 

  • There were 10 pupils and 0 staff members with positive cases from September 20 to September 26.
  • There were 10 pupils and 0 staff members with positive cases from September 27 to September 3.
  • From Oct. 4 to 10, seven kids and one member of staff had positive cases.
  • There were seven pupils and three staff members with positive cases from October 11 to 17.

“I’m honored to share those figures with you,” Butler remarked. These figures are based on a total of 4,634 students and employees.

Butler went on to say that the Atascadero Homecoming game and dance were “outstanding.” He indicated that USD would resume overnight field trips inside the state, and that they will investigate out-of-state travel options for organizations like as the Atascadero Greybots, who won a global championship at a robotics competition in Houston.

Following that, the board members gave their findings, and they all expressed gratitude to the Tech Department for obtaining the aforementioned grant. Trustee Buban expressed his want to discuss the purported Aeries monitoring, saying, “We’re not doing that, or we’ll find someone else.”

The next item on the agenda was Action Items, and the minutes from the Oct. 5 meeting were adopted 7-0.

The Consent Agenda received a 7-0 vote of approval.

Assistant Superintendent E.J. Rossi presented the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan, which would provide monies for safe and ongoing in-person education (COVID testing, nursing staff, janitorial), correcting missed instructional time, and any additional funding, particularly technology. It received a 7-0 vote of approval.

The board voted 7-0 to accept AUSD’s Initial Bargaining Proposal for 2021-2022 to the Atascadero District Teacher’s Association (ADTA).

The board accepted and recognized ADTA’s Initial Bargaining Proposal for 2021-2022, which was received and acknowledged by the board 7-0.

At 8:59 p.m., the meeting was adjourned, and the next meeting is set for Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

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“The California Department of Education is reopening the public schools on May 28, 2021.” Reference: california schools reopening date 2021.

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