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'Masks are not helpful' | Controversial letter in Ripon fuels anti-mask movement

Ripon Unified School District says a letter threatening repercussions for students not wearing masks at school is "not official district policy."

RIPON, Calif. — A letter given to some parents opposed to their children wearing masks at school has given rise to controversy within the Ripon Unified School District.

The district says Thursday, "a few individual families" with students at Ripon Elementary School "were demanding information about potential legal consequences after refusing to allow their child to wear a mask."

According to the Ripon Unified School District, the principal handed them a letter stating in part if masks aren't worn, one potential action is "contacting Child Protective Services and request that they remove your children from campus as they have been abandoned on campus by you."

When ABC10 asked if this could happen, the district told said, "the option is part of the general legal guidance that was prepared for several districts and does not reflect official district policy."

ABC10 reached out to San Joaquin County Child Protective Services for clarification but did not hear back as of writing.

When ABC10 reached out to the State of California for an answer, ABC10 was referred to the county.

Parents picking up their children after school at Ripon Elementary School had polarizing opinions regarding the importance of masks.

"I don't think that it's important for kids to be wearing the masks in class. I think the science is showing the masks are not helpful," said parent Jaelyn Johnston.

But the CDC wholeheartedly disagrees with that argument saying, "requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public settings 'brings' an added layer of mitigation as the Omicron variant … continues to increase prevalence across California."

Even so, anti-mask groups like "Let Them Breathe" are sharing the letter on social media to draw more attention to getting masks out of schools.

The recent photo showing Gov. Newsom maskless at a football game is also fueling the anti-mask movement.

"Kids are saying that they're following the governor's example, and if he doesn't have to wear a mask while enjoying a ball game they don't feel they should have to wear mask at school," said Sharon McKeeman, founder of "Let Them Breathe."

Despite it all, Vannim Straing, mother to pre-k twins Alexander and Oliver, said masks are important.

"It's something that can protect them from anything not just like the COVID."

Watch: San Juan Unified School District students protest school mask mandate

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