Teacher Hospitalized on First Day of School After Parent's Assault Over Mask Mandate

An elementary school parent in California allegedly assaulted a teacher after arguing with the school's principal about the statewide school mask mandate.

Amador County Unified School District Superintendent Torie Gibson sent a letter about the incident to members of the school community Thursday. Gibson later told The Sacramento Bee, which obtained a copy of the letter, that the incident began with an argument about the mask requirement.

In her letter, Gibson described the incident as starting when the parent "verbally assaulted" the school principal. The incident escalated when an unnamed teacher stepped in to "protect" the principal.

Gibson did not name the school at which the incident occurred but said it happened after the first day of school on Wednesday. Police in Sutter Creek, a city southeast of Sacramento in Amador County, posted on Facebook about a Wednesday incident that appeared to match the superintendent's description, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Officers with the Sutter Creek Police Department said they were sent to an elementary school in the area to address "a disturbance between a parent and a staff member concerning COVID-19 procedures and facial maskings," the department wrote Thursday.

Teacher assaulted California mask mandate
An elementary school parent in California allegedly assaulted a teacher earlier this week during an argument about the statewide mask mandate in K-12 schools. Above, students walk through their school's hallway at a high school in Los Angeles on April 27, 2021. Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

"The matter is being investigated and the findings will be forwarded to the Amador County District Attorney's Office for review and if appropriate, criminal prosecution," police added in the post.

Gibson later told Newsweek the incident occurred at Sutter Creek Elementary.

Gibson did not describe the extent of the teacher's injuries in her letter, but she told The Sacramento Bee the teacher was taken to an emergency room for treatment of their injuries and later released.

Speaking with Newsweek by phone on Friday, Gibson said the teacher is "doing well" and is back in the classroom.

"He was released from the hospital, and we're just trying to do our best and keep everything rolling along the way it needs to happen for our kids," she said.

Gibson described the incident as a "really unfortunate" situation to happen so early in the school year. "Definitely not the way we had planned to start the first day of school," she said.

In California, masks are required to be worn in indoor K-12 school settings regardless of vaccination status, though the state health department has said there are exemptions for some individuals with medical conditions, mental health conditions or disabilities.

The Amador County Unified School District published a message alerting parents and other members of the school community about the mask mandate and possible exemptions earlier this month on its website.

In her Thursday letter, Gibson said assaults on teachers and other district staff members "will never be tolerated" and added those kinds of incidents "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"Remember, we are not the ones making the rules/mandates, we are the ones required to follow/enforce them if we want to keep our doors open and students at school five days a week," her letter said.

The superintendent acknowledged "emotions are high" at a time when students are returning to their schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and encouraged members of the school community to familiarize themselves with the local and state requirements, which she said were "forever changing."

"I beg that we do our best to set all feelings aside and look at what is best for students," Gibson wrote.

Updated 8/13 at 3:40 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include comments from Amador County Unified School District Superintendent Torie Gibson.