Board of Education Reinstates Mask Mandate

by Melissa Mason

January 10, 2022

On Tuesday (1/4/2022), the current school board voted to reinstate the mask mandate in schools with the exception of students participating in athletic events or practices. This decision does not focus on education as a whole, but instead is an infringement on parental rights. The school board, a public entity, made a medical decision on behalf of 24,000 students without the advice of a medical doctor. What qualifications do they have to do this?

No matter which side of the masking argument you fall on, this should be concerning to you:

  • As a parent, I know my children best.
  • As a parent, I have their best interests in mind and make decisions regarding their health, values, and safety accordingly.
  • There is not a government entity on earth that should be making these choices for them.

A mask is an example of medical treatment, a vaccine is another. Both have been made accessible to school aged children. Those who have opted to vaccinate their children have had ample opportunity to do so. Those who have not, understand the risks. Parents have the right to make these and other medical decisions for their children, regardless of where they fall in the argument. This right should be respected.

What Can You Do as a Parent or Guardian?

As a Parent or Guardian you should not feel helpless. Of utmost importance is to keep in regular communication with your child’s teachers, administration, and the school board.

Below is a letter that concerned parents can send to their child’s school administration and classroom teachers regarding the mask policy. Please feel free to copy-and-paste, and tailor it to fit your own needs.

Hello,

I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful holiday!

In light of the recent Board of Education decision on 1/4/2022, I am asserting my rights as [your child’s name]’s parent to make medical decisions for him/her. I will not be requiring [your child’s name] to wear a mask at any time unless he/she so chooses. I will not be sending him/her to school with a mask.

Please show me in the school policy manual where it states that masks are required.

School policy states verbatim (highlighted for emphasis):

Policy Code: 4000 Focus on Students

The board recognizes that providing students with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education must be the primary focus of each school, the school system, and the board. To support students in their formal education, each school should strive for a learning environment in which:

  1. school grounds, buildings, and classrooms are safe, orderly, clean, and inviting;
  2. students learn and practice responsible behavior;
  3. students are treated fairly; and
  4. students have input in decisions affecting them when feasible.

I understand schools are now extending the concept of ‘student safety’ to cover contagions, specifically COVID-19. While there is no definition of this expanded application of “safety” in school policy, a reasonable person would define safety in schools as protections against physical or verbal threats. As it is currently being applied, schools are focusing on protections against medical threats as well. This has never been under the purview of the goal of school safety because medical illnesses are inevitable whether in a school setting or outside of it. Parents are aware of the associated medical risk when sending their children to school. The option of Virtual Academy has been made available to individuals with concerns about these issues.

Also, if you could please send me information regarding medical and religious exemptions from this decision, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
[your name]

My Experience

After sending this to my children’s teachers and administration, I received a pdf of the Mask Exception Form. On the form, it asks parents or guardians to “provide information regarding the reason for the exception” and gives three options: medical condition, behavioral condition, and other. For both forms, I chose “other” with the reasoning being mental health/social emotional health concerns. Both of my boys have 504 plans, so their diagnoses were my justification. I scanned these forms onto my computer and emailed them to the principals and teachers of each boy.

I received a quick response from one principal who informed me that he would be reviewing the document and would send me the decision as soon as possible. In the meantime, he indicated that my son could come to school, but he would be sitting in the main office until a decision was reached. My son had the choice to attend school and follow the aforementioned directive or stay home. Either way, instructional time was being missed.

The results: the exception could not be approved as requested.

The exception could not be approved as requested. Administration noted in regards to my concern for my child’s mental health: “there was not specific documentation about these concerns as they relate to mask use.”

If my efforts were unsuccessful, why should you take action in this way? The key takeaway is that you will need documentation of all communication with administration, teachers, and schools. Accountability for the decisions that are being made which impact our students is necessary. This will serve as evidence of the discriminatory practices of the school board and administration both within the local school as well as county wide. Let’s continue to hold our School Board and administration accountable. That is how change will happen.

Join Melissa’s Team

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Support Melissa's Campaign

The New Hanover County Board of Education election is very competitive this year and she’ll need all the resources she can get. Please consider supporting her efforts to bring positive change to our public education system by donating to her campaign.