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OP-ED Corner: Did anyone care about the health and safety of Orange County’s children?

OP-ED - News Media Canada

Submitted by:

Gina Clayton-Tarvin, President of Ocean View School District  (Democratic Party State Delegate)

 John Briscoe, Trustee of Ocean View School District (Republican State Party Delegate)

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Did anyone care about the health and safety of Orange County’s children? Our advocacy for safety on behalf our youngest workers was finally achieved on April 21, 2020. We demanded that the OC Board of Supervisors do the right thing and take up a vote to issue a countywide order to require face coverings for all essential workers that interface with the public in food services, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and other retail stores. As youth advocates, we had been working diligently behind the scenes and in the public eye to compel the Supervisors to pass legislation like all other Southern California surrounding counties’ supervisors had already done for working student safety.  We knew that failure to take action would have resulted in more sickness and death from COVID19 in Orange County.  

Using common sense, common courtesy and a common decency approach to persuade Supervisor action we asserted that: Common sense would dictate that young workers be protected. Common sense would direct retail customers be protected. Common sense would direct ‘essential service’ food sales managers reduce their risk of sick and dying workers.

Common courtesy was MIA at the April 7, 2020 Board of Supervisors meeting when Supervisor Do was silenced April 14 attempting to present his safety motion. Supervisor Do was cut off by Chairwoman Steele without parliamentary basis.Common courtesy went astray with denial of Supervisor Do’s face mask motion. Common decency calls for immediate agenda consideration of mandatory OC face covering. Common Cause Finally Achieved when Supervisor Do was allowed to present his motion again April 21 which was approved 3 to 2 with Wagner and Steele voting for NO protection for young workers.

Many of our poorest families in the OC find themselves without head-of-household income.  COVID19 forced unemployment places our lowest poorest families on the brink of hunger and homelessness.  Many OC families have only the oldest teenagers working at minimum wage jobs bringing in family income.  School is out; these teens are working longer hours with more exposure.  We believe that we must protect our working teens whether they are in the classroom or interfacing with the public as heroic frontline essential workers during a global pandemic. 

The lack of action by the OC Supervisors was so serious that Irvine, Costa Mesa, Seal Beach, and Buena Park had to pass their own ordinances to mandate face coverings for essential workers. OC Supervisors previously thought we should all wait.  However, we presented a widely circulated and wildly popular petition to the OC Supervisors demonstrating widespread support for face coverings.  While we wait for the ever elusive herd immunity, and suffer possible second or third waves of infection, we successfully lobbied to compeled community approval of an Orange County order and safety plan that included face coverings.

Sincerely, 

Gina Clayton-TarvinPresident, Board of TrusteesOcean View School District 

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