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Some District 51 parents, students voice opposition to any mask requirements in schools

Currently, the district does not have a mask requirement
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:15 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Mesa County Valley School District 51 parents and student turned up in droves to Tuesday’s school board meeting. The board discussed the safety plan for the upcoming school year. That plan includes mask policies among others for faculty, staff, and students. Safety plan policies are subject to change according to circumstances, said the district.

District 51 is not requiring mask-wearing regardless of vaccination status at this time, nor is there any COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending anyone aged two years and up and not vaccinated against the coronavirus to wear masks indoors and in crowded settings in its most recent guidance on the topic. Many at the meeting were wondering what direction the board will go in based off the new guidance.

According to Daniel Vaden, “Many of us are here today because we believe in medical freedom and the right to choose.” Concerned citizens showed up to make their voices heard, and to hear what the school boar is thinking. District 51 teacher Jen Schumann explained her view. “I’m here as a concerned teacher. I believe that it is a moral and ethical obligation to stand up on behalf of youth against any further COVID mandates that impact their ability to breathe.”

Many who showed up on Tuesday evening, both parents and students, are done with masks. District 51 student Charlotte Kristy said that, “It’s been really hard because I’m not able to show how I feel. Like I might be happy or like sad or really confused, and the teacher won’t be able to understand the question that I’m asking.”

The major theme from today’s gathering at the school board meeting: choice when it comes to wearing a mask. Andrea Haitz, who is running to represent District C on the school board, expressed that, “It’s not the government’s job to mandate masks and vaccines. That’s a very personal choice that parents need to have with their healthcare provider, and so we’re just here to see what the board has to say and be here to help support the parents.” Angela Lema, who is running for District E for the school board, agrees. “The most important thing are that parents and the kids get to decide these things, whether it’s masking or [getting vaccinated], we just want to make sure that they’re the ones in charge.”

No votes or final decisions were made Tuesday evening on the issue. There was no public comment period either, but the signs many people were holding read out their stances loud and clear.

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