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Parent attacks teacher after mask dispute on first day of school in California district, official says

The teacher suffered "lacerations on his face, some bruising on his a face and a pretty good knot on the back of his head," the Amador County Unified School District superintendent said.
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A parent attacked a teacher following a mask dispute on the first day of school, a California superintendent said.

The incident occurred about an hour after the first day ended at Sutter Creek Elementary School in Amador County, NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento reported.

In a letter to families, Amador County Unified School District Superintendent Torie Gibson wrote: "As the first day of school comes and goes, there are always hiccups along the way, especially during this trying time.

"Unfortunately, a parent took it upon himself to verbally assault a principal that led to a serious physical altercation between him and a teacher as the teacher intended to protect the principal."

Gibson told KCRA that the fight started when a parent who was frustrated with the school's mask mandate saw his daughter walk out of the building with a face covering. After the parent got into an argument with the principal, a male teacher intervened, the superintendent said. The situation escalated into a physical fight, leaving the teacher "bleeding," according to Gibson.

The teacher suffered "lacerations on his face, some bruising on his a face and a pretty good knot on the back of his head," she told KCRA. He was treated at the hospital and later released Wednesday.

It was unclear if the parent sustained any injuries, but he was banned from being on campus, according to KCRA.

All students are required to wear a mask while indoors unless they have a medical exemption, according to the school district's policy, which is in line with the California Department of Public Health's mandate. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended that all children wear masks when they return to school this year.

In her letter, Gibson said "assaulting a staff member will never be tolerated on any school campus," adding that mask "mandates are forever changing so understanding current requirements is critical."

"We are not the ones making the rules/mandates," she wrote. "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."

The incident was the latest example of the nationwide debate over school mask mandates reaching a boiling point.

On Tuesday, angry protests erupted in Franklin, Tennessee, after the Williamson County Board of Education reinstated a mask mandate for elementary school students, with some people yelling at and heckling those wearing masks in the parking lot at a meeting about the measure.

Children have shown more symptoms with the delta variant of the coronavirus than with previous strains, and they have increasingly been hospitalized in recent weeks. Children's hospitals in states that have high transmission rates have begun to battle bed shortages, NBC News reported Monday.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorizations for Covid-19 vaccines for adults and children over age 12, leaving younger children more vulnerable to infection. The FDA said last month that it hopes to offer authorization for children under 12 by early to midwinter.