Groups of students and their parents gathered in front of La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Elementary School before classes Wednesday and Thursday to support masking and other COVID-19 school safety measures.
They held signs that read “Spread love, not bacteria”, “Masks save lives”, “Get waxed” and more and waved to drivers and pedestrians as they entered the school grounds.
The demonstrations came as schools in San Diego County have encountered a growing setback from some parents who oppose continued demands for indoor masks, which the state has kept in place for schools at least until next week, when officials plan to issue a update. On February 17, a few La Jolla elementary school parents got their children exposed in class and refuses to abide by the policy.
In addition, the San Diego Unified School District, which operates La Jolla’s five public schools, is in a legal battle over its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for students ages 16 and older and has delayed implementation until next school year.
Jen Burney, who has a child at Torrey Pines Elementary and another at Muirlands Middle School, organized the two rallies, which were attended by about 30 people on Wednesday and 60 on Thursday.
“We wanted to show how deeply grateful our community is to our teachers and staff,” said Burney, who added that more conventions may occur. She also expressed gratitude that San Diego Unified officials are complying with pandemic health protocols.
She said some parents who drove by waved to those attending the rallies and honked with their horns to show support.
Torrey Pines Elementary Principal Nona Richard did not immediately leave a comment.
Burney said students also deserve recognition for “functioning with minimal disruption during the pandemic.”
“Everyone is exhausted by the pandemic,” she said.
But she said she hopes the rallies encourage people to “keep on keeping the rules, even if they are difficult, and keep each other safe.”
Alexis Conroy, who has two children at Torrey Pines Elementary, said she and her children attended the conventions because they “felt strongly that we needed to support the district.”
“We’re a science family,” Conroy said. “We understand that even though (some) may say that it is safe to take off masks, the numbers (COVID-19 case) are still quite high.”
Conroy said her priority is to keep students in school. She added that it would be “a terrible combination” for younger children who are unable to be vaccinated to be exposed at school.
“I know we’re not going to influence politics, but it’s nice to (counter) all the negativity,” Conroy said.
Nadir Weibel, who has two children at Torrey Pines Elementary and another at La Jolla High School, said he attended the rallies because he and his wife, who are both scientists, have been “strong supporters of having safe schools under the whole pandemic. ”
“Mask mandates and vaccination requirements have been really successful in keeping (COVID-19) cases down,” Weibel said. “Things are getting better, but it’s not yet time to relax, even if we want to.”
He said children under 5 and those with underlying health conditions “are still at risk” for serious infections. “With a small sacrifice, we can keep the school safe for everyone.”