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A set of controversial guidelines recommending that Orange County public school students return to their campuses without basic coronavirus precautions has ties to an anti-union, pro-charter school group that is looking to open a new campus in August.

Members of the county’s Board of Education on Monday voted 4-1 to approve guidelines allowing for the reopening of schools without masks, social distancing or reduced class sizes as children, it claimed, “play a very minor role in COVID-19.”

The advisory document, which contradicts recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Education and the Orange County Department of Education, was commissioned by board President Ken Williams and Vice President Mari Barke, two members of the school board’s executive committee who are vocal proponents of public charter schools and school choice.

The pair assembled a panel of physicians, policy experts and a retired school superintendent in a June 24 community forum on school reopening with the intention of producing a document following the discussion that would guide the board’s decision making.

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