GIPS parents express frustrations toward mask policy

GIPS parents protest mask policy
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:30 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - With students returning to school in August, some districts are requiring everyone to wear a mask and a few parents spoke out about the policy Thursday.

Grand Island Public Schools announced Monday they would temporarily require students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside of preschool through 12th grade facilities.

Robin Dexter, associate superintendent for GIPS, said they had made the decision due to the high transmission of COVID-19 in the area. Katherine Mauldin, a GIPS parent with two children enrolled at Shoemaker Elementary, said she didn’t agree with the decisions the school board had made.

“It makes me angry because we don’t have the right to choose what we want to do best for our children, they’re telling us ‘you’re going to take it this way or you can’t come to public education, you can home school,’ but not everyone can home school, that’s not an option for everyone and some students need face-to-face interaction,” Mauldin said.

In addition to homeschooling, Dexter said parents had the option to enroll their kids in virtual school if they were not comfortable with the policies, but at the time this article was written, the online learning option was at full capacity.

“We do ask parents to submit their requests for virtual school and we can add them to the waiting list,” Dexter. “And then as kids move back and forth and we get enrollment settled we can add students to the virtual school opportunity.”

She said the school district had a few parents that came forward, saying they were against the mask policy.

Dexter said the school board was keeping track of COVID-19 cases daily and she hoped to see the numbers go down.

Maulden said she pulled both of her kids out of school for the time being and that she especially didn’t want one of them to wear a mask because of his asthma.

“I’m not comfortable with him wearing a mask, he sweats profusely with his mask and starts coughing,” She said. “So, I already knew that, in my agenda, he was not going to wear a mask. And my third grader, she knows my stance on masks as well and she’s not comfortable wearing one, and I’m not going to make her wear one.”

Mauldin said she had expressed her views on the mask policy to the school district.

Dexter said the school district officials had done their research on people with breathing problems and mask-wearing.

“Sometimes the masks help asthma, but we just know the kids and really watch for any symptoms, but we had kids with asthma in masks all last year and we did well,” She said.

The school district planned to reevaluate their decisions of requiring masks toward the end of September 2021.

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