Kate Kotlyar staff writer
When English teacher, journalism adviser and ombudsperson Gaby Doyle walked into the girls’ bathroom on the second floor patio, she saw a group of students with their masks completely off, taking pictures of themselves. She was “mystified” by the students’ judgement and immediately told them to put their masks on. The girls were not defiant and put their masks back on in accordance to the BHUSD mask policy.
According to the CDC, masks must be worn over people’s mouths and noses in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since Beverly Hills is in Los Angeles County, BHUSD follows the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s guidelines regarding wearing a mask. BHUSD’s mask policy states that masks must be worn at all times on campus, unless eating or drinking. Also, students and teachers cannot be unmasked in the same space.
While the rules for how to wear a mask are clear, there is still a gray area in the PPE/mask policy at BHHS due to differences in severity of mask violations.
“One of the things that’s tricky when we’re dealing with all of this, and school stuff in general, is that people like to see a clear-cut, one-size-fits-all policy,” Assistant Principal Drew Stewart said. “Unfortunately, we work in the people business. So, a kid who kept his mask [off] too long after eating lunch or having it around his chin too long after eating lunch is different from a kid who is taking off their mask in classes and coughing. So, not all mask violations are created equal.”
Often students wear masks that are too big so they slide off when the student speaks. There have also been complaints about the “style of masks” according to Stewart, but in these instances students are given proper masks to wear. For example, gaiters and masks with valves are not allowed.
However, if a student is being defiant by refusing to wear a mask, consequences include a call home, a visit to the principal’s office and the possibility of being sent home.
“If [a student is] defiant, the first step would be for the teacher to coach them up. If it continues, then we ask the teacher to call home and/or email the parent and they can let [the office] know,” Stewart said. “If they feel that it is something that is immediately unsafe or overtly defiant, then I am asking teachers to send the student to the office immediately.”
If a student continued to refuse to wear a mask, they “would be disallowed to come onto campus,” according to Principal Mark Mead. The student would continue their education through distance learning.
The administration has not received any complaints from faculty members about students being defiant. Although, similar to Doyle’s encounter with maskless girls in the restroom, there have been encounters of students who are not following the mask rules while administrators are not present.
“I saw a kid on the patio the other day with his classmates and he had his mask completely down. We made eye contact and I pointed to my face and he pulled his mask up. Even when I was coming back across the patio, his mask was still properly on,” Doyle said. “I feel like, in general, students are very responsive. They know that this is how their masks are supposed to be worn and they fix it when you point it out to them.”
Overall, there have been no reports of defiant students and Mead applauds students by saying that they have been doing a “great job” with masks.
“I think our students have been pretty good overall, to be honest. I do see noses come out sometimes and we have to put them back in, sometimes people are a little bit lethargic when they’re eating their food, they can take quite a long time,” Mead said. “We’ve got a few more weeks, so let’s stay strong. Keep wearing the masks, keep supporting each other and let’s put this year to a close. I think like everybody else, I’m looking forward to next year and a fresh start.”