Parents protest against mask mandate in Swan Valley School District

Parents speak against mask mandate during Swan Valley School District Board of Education meeting
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:51 PM EDT
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SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Swan Valley parents speaking out regarding a mask mandate.

”Our children should not be forced to think that everyone around them is ill and dangerous and that their air is toxic to breathe. This is setting them up for paranoid psychological damage,” one parent said during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

Their reaction comes just one day after the Saginaw County school district required all students, staff, and visitors to mask up inside school buildings.

Before parents spoke to the board, dozens of them gathered for a peaceful protest at the entrance of the high school.

Melissa Thurston was organizing the protest before the meeting, and she says she’s a nurse and she wants the board to consider an alternative solution to masking.

”There was actually recently a bond proposal where all of us parents voted in favor obviously of it to get our school systems more money, so I’m asking that we utilize that money and consult an industrial hygienist. They will come out to our school buildings. They will do a health-risk assessment, and they will tell us what she should be utilizing,” Thurston said.

Thurston says she wants to focus more on environmental controls in the schools like using filter systems and improving ventilation.

She was backed up by other parents who had other reasons for protesting the mask mandate, holding signs that said ‘Freedom Not Force,’ ‘Unmask Our Kids,’ and ‘My Body My Choice.’

One Board Member, Kevin Shanks, said during the meeting that as of last week, 191 students and teachers quarantining at home or had to get antigen testing every day.

Right now, he says masks are needed to avoid another round of hybrid learning or remote learning.

One parent and district employee agrees and supports the district’s mask mandate to keep kids safe and in school.

”My son alone struggled with virtual learning, and I know a lot of other kids did. They don’t get the education they need. They don’t get the structure they need. They don’t get the help they need, and then they don’t get the social interactions,” Paul King said.

ABC12 spoke with the Board President after the meeting. He didn’t want to go on camera, but even after hearing from the community, he still stands by the board’s decision to keep the mask mandate in place.

He says district’s maintenance director will receive all of the information from tonight’s meeting to look over and move forward from there.

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