Brother and sister are banned from California high school for not wearing masks

The students’ father says they are the victims of religious discrimination

Helen Elfer
Friday 27 August 2021 14:46 BST
Victoria and Drew Nelson were banned from school for refusing to wear masks
Victoria and Drew Nelson were banned from school for refusing to wear masks (Fox News)

Two California high school students have been asked to stay away from campus after refusing to wear masks.

Their father, Gary Nelson, said the pair were sent home on the first day of school and asked not to return. He said their decision not to wear masks was based on religious principles.

“The Bible says we’re made in the image of God and Satan tries to cover that up. A mask is a sign of oppression,” said Mr Nelson. “If it was Muslim, Jewish or something of a more high-profile minority religion in this country, yes, they would have accommodated ... just to say they weren’t discriminating based on that religion. But they feel safe because it’s Christianity.”

According to a Fox News report, the siblings believed their decision would fall under a religious exemption, even though they had not formally requested one from the district or the school.

NBC News reports that Drew, 17, and Victoria, 16, who attend the Springs Charter Schools Temecula Student Center, still have full access to curriculums, resources and teachers but have been asked to remain on independent study at home.

“They were sent home and told not to come back with or without a mask,” said Mr Nelson. “If they do, they would be charged with trespassing.”

According to Mr Nelson, Victoria was sent to the principal’s office when she arrived not wearing a mask, but as the principal was not in, she returned to the classroom. The teacher then evacuated the room and police were called, he said.

In a letter to Mr Nelson, Principal Rebecca Fabozzi said the children were disruptive and had violated the California Department of Public Health mandate that students wear masks in public schools.

She wrote: “Each of your students refused to comply with the CDPH mask mandate for public schools. When asked by staff to wear a face covering, your students refused to comply.”

Ms Fabozzi continued: “When asked to leave the school premise and continue the day on home independent study, your student refused to leave the campus. Our resource officer arrived, and your student was directed to leave campus.”

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