California School Evacuates Class, Issues Lockdown & Expels Two Students After They Refused To Wear Masks

An interesting start to the school year.

Two Students Banned From California School For Not Wearing Masks Dom Ernest L Gomez / Shutterstock

Students at Springs Charter School in Temecula, California were probably expecting a typical first day of school, but what they got was anything but normal. 

On Thursday, siblings Victoria and Drew Nelson were banned from school after refusing to wear masks as required by the schools mask mandate.

The siblings believed their decision to not wear a mask would fall under a religious exemption but never made a formal request with the school.


Why was Springs Charter School placed on lockdown? 

The school was placed in lockdown while administration called in a School Resource Officer (SRO) to evaluate the situation. 

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Initially, Drew was sent to the principals office straight away but reports say Victoria refused to leave the classroom. As the situation escalated, her teacher evacuated the other students and prevented Victoria from following by mirroring her every move.

"When I would go left, she would follow me. I was trying to go around her and she would block me so eventually I just gave up," she says.


Fox11 reported that the charter school did not provide more details in order to protect student and teacher privacy, but the siblings were deemed a threat.

It seems that the school was placed on lockdown out of an abundance of caution. Instead of waiting for things to get out of hand, they quickly took action.

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Springs Charter School has responded to the Nelson siblings claims. 

The Nelson siblings expressed disappointment in the school's decision to decline any exemption from the mask mandate. Victoria said, "We thought the school would care what we believe in but they just didn’t even care enough to listen." 


But their decision doesn't seem to be about not caring for the student's beliefs. Instead, it's all about state mask requirements. Springs Charter School is following the guidelines outlined in the CDPH’s mask mandate as they handle the Nelson’s demand for exemption.

Fox11 reported the school’s response to the situation:

“As a public charter school, Springs Charter Schools is requiring to comply with all CDPH orders, including the mask mandate, in order to protect the health and safety of our staff and students, which is our highest priority. To this end, students and staff are required to wear a mask while in school facilities."

"There are no religious exemptions in the state mask order nor has the right to an exemption even been recognized by the Supreme Court because it's a neutral law of general application to protect public health. We are still investigating the specifics of the incident."


With luck, this statement will help clear up some of the confusion surrounding what does and what does not exempt students from wearing a mask.

The Nelson siblings have been officially banned from attending Springs Charter School whether or not they choose to wear a mask. Instead, they will do independent study from home. 

California students are required to wear masks in school.

As of July 18, 2021, California has renewed previous mask mandates to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Currently, the California Department of Public Health is requiring everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face masks when using public transportation, any kind of healthcare facility, detention centers/correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, emergency shelters, homeless  shelters, and indoor K-12 and childcare facilities in California.  


The mandate further requires unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor public places and strongly recommends, but does not require, masks indoors for vaccinated people. 

Currently, the only exceptions to mask mandates are children under two, people with a medical or mental health condition, people with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.

People who are hearing impaired or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, and people who work in conditions where wearing a mask would be unsafe are also exempt. 


No other exceptions are outlined in the mask mandate as it currently stands. 

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Susie Grimshaw is a writer for YourTango. Catch her covering all things love & relationships and entertainment & news.