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ORANGE, Calif. — Ahead of the Orange County Board of Education’s special meeting tonight to vote on a “white paper” that urges schools to reopen with no masks, no social distancing, no reduction in class sizes, and “voluntary” safety protocols for teachers, Democratic Party of Orange County Chair Ada Briceño issued a statement condemning the recommendations.

“Keep our schools safe,” Briceño urged the Board. “By seeking out — and promoting — extreme right-wing opinions, our Republican-dominated Board of Education is denying science and common sense. 

“This is dangerous and it misleads Orange County’s students, parents, teachers and faculty. As a parent and community leader, I stand with our teachers and students, and I call on our Board of Education to put safety over politics.”

The Board of Education’s vote is based on recommendations made by a panel the Board hosted last month. The panel, which includes right-wing talk show guests, Tea Party supporters, anti-mask protestors, and advocates for hydroxychloroquine, concluded in part that masks are “very harmful” to children and social distancing is “not recommended.”

Chair Briceño’s statement joins an outpouring of concern from Orange County parents, teachers, students and elected officials. The public outcry includes a change.org petition with more than 30,000 signatures, a student-led petition, and letters from current and former elected officials including California State Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell and former State Senator Josh Newman.

These actions come as cases of COVID-19 surge in Orange County, and other lawmakers are taking action to reduce spread. On Monday, Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts announced they would use distance learning for the upcoming school year. The same day, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Orange County as one of 30 counties with additional closures designed to halt a spike in coronavirus cases.

The Orange County Board of Education can issue recommendations, but local school districts retain jurisdiction to make decisions for their school safety.

About the Democratic Party of Orange County

Orange County is a nationally-watched battleground for control of the U.S. House, and a critical battleground for expanding Democratic leadership in California. The DCCC opened a field office in Irvine in 2019, and the CDP opened two field offices – in Brea and Huntington Beach – in early 2020.

Once famously known as “Reagan country,” after President Reagan called Orange County the place where “all good Republicans go to die,” Orange County is rapidly shifting from a Republican stronghold into a highly diverse Democratic metropolis.

Chair Ada Briceno, a longtime labor organizer, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, and recently elected Democratic National Committee member, is the first immigrant and second Latina to lead the Democratic Party of Orange County. Her executive leadership team includes Latino, Asian American, millennial, and LGBT representation.

Democrats swept all seven Congressional seats in Orange County in 2018. Less than a year later, Democrats overtook countywide voter registration to become the region’s leading political party. Today, OC Democrats have gained more than a 2-point voter advantage over the GOP.

Orange County is the nation’s sixth largest county, with 3.2 million residents and more than half a million registered Democratic voters.

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RELEASE DATE: July 13, 2020

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