Angry parents pack Rankin County School Board meeting over mask mandate

Coronavirus

RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – Dozens of parents showed up to a Rankin County School Board meeting on Wednesday to protest the district’s new mask mandate. They got the chance to voice their opinions about the temporary mask requirement at schools.

“We can’t send our kids to school to fight for themselves. They’re too young so we have to fight for them,” said one parent.

On Monday, leaders with the Rankin County School District announced face masks will be required indoors for all students and employees beginning Tuesday, August 10. The mask mandate will be in place until Wednesday, August 25.

Many parents at the meeting said the decision to mask up their children should be up to them, not the school board. One mother said her son loved going to school until he had to start wearing a face mask.

“When school started back this year, my youngest said he didn’t want to go. I said you don’t have to wear a mask this year, and he came home and said it was the best day ever, and he loved Monday. So, Monday night when I told him he had to wear a mask Tuesday, he cried and said, ‘What did we do wrong?’” the mother said.

Parents argued that the mask mandate was implemented too soon, and other safety measures should have been taken first.

“It’s funny that we’re all pushing wearing masks, but the school supply list didn’t include Lysol, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer. Let’s start with preventative measures. Let’s do a mandate to send one can of Lysol, one thing of wipes and Germ-X to the classroom. When those kids come into the classroom, line them up and have them wash off,” one parent stated.

However, another Rankin County mother said wearing a mask is the least that can be done to stop the spread in the classroom.

“I’ve had a child that was not old enough to get vaccinated come down with COVID, and it was very scary. While the rest of us that were vaccinated in our household remain negative, so vaccines work. I’m not advocating for anyone to do anything they don’t want to do, but the simplest thing that we all can do is wear a mask,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Sue Townsend said a major factor in the decision was a concern for staff contracting the virus. She said if too many teachers test positive or have to quarantine, it’s difficult for schools to find someone to watch those classes.

“By nature, we want to make people happy. We do love these children, but the decision was made on the supervision of our children, not on a political side,” Townsend said.

The board will revisit the mask mandate at the next meeting on August 25.

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