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Parents in Muscatine protest school mask mandate

The mandate is in place for students aged pre-k through 6th grade

MUSCATINE, Iowa — Parents in Muscatine protested the reinstated mask mandate outside the Muscatine school district office Wednesday morning. 

The school board voted to reinstate the mandate last Friday for all students grades Pre-K through the sixth grade.

Among those parents’ part of the protests was Jesus Gonzalez. 

He has three children in the district, with two falling in the mask mandate age group. Gonzalez saying, “This is just us standing up for our children and our parental rights.”

Gonzalez says his daughters don’t like wearing masks, and he doesn’t want to make them. “When I told my daughters Friday that the board voted yes for the mandate, one of my daughters started crying.”

His third grader Kaleigh was one of many young students present at the protest with her parents. Kaleigh saying, “I don’t like wearing a mask because then I can get a rash.”

The school board implemented the mask mandate for students that aren’t qualified to receive a vaccine yet. The board says they plan on reevaluating the mask mandate once the vaccine is available to those younger than 12 years old.

In the meantime, Gonzalez plans on moving forward with holding the school board accountable for what he describes as a failure to listen to the public saying, “We will be continuing to pursue the board of education to remove them from their seats because of their choices to go against our rights and our wishes as a community.”

Matt Miller is also a parent to two students in the district, a fifth and a sixth grader. Miller spoke at the protest saying, “It is our right to choose what we do with our children and how we raise them.”

He doesn’t think the school board has listened to the community either. Miller saying, “Quite honestly this is about our rights to me. This isn’t even about the masks as much as our rights and the fact that they silenced us and they didn’t listen to what the public has to say.”

Face masks are only encouraged for those in junior high and high school, and for Miller it’s aggravating that there isn’t consistency. “I find it extremely confusing as to how they think that is going to help control the COVID-19 outbreak when half of your children are wearing masks and he other half are not.”

Gonzalez says his daughters won’t be wearing a mask in school. He is currently in the process of receiving exemptions for his daughters.

“My girls are not wearing masks,” Gonzalez said.