Over 100 people gather to protest NCSD mask mandate

A community member holds up a sign at the NCSD board of Trustees meeting April 26
A community member holds up a sign at the NCSD board of Trustees meeting April 26(Bobbee Russell)
Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Natrona County families gathered at the school district office to protest a decision made last week about keeping masks in schools for the remainder of the year.

Families waited out in the cold and wind with signs that said un-mask our kids. Demonstrators got up to share their thoughts with the board of trustees. A lot of parents shared how their kids are coming home with headaches, asthma and other health issues. Miranda Taylor, a concerned parent, said her son’s asthma has gotten worse.

“He has at least two asthma attacks every single day from the masks. When he doesn’t have it on during the weekends at home or around town we have no asthma attacks,” Taylor said.

There were between 150 and 160 people who attended this meeting. NCSD officials opened up four different rooms in the district office to provide space for everyone. People had the chance to address the board about their concerns.

Parents and kids spoke about their experiences like feeling sick, disappointed because they can’t see classmates smiling. A 10-year-old told the board she is getting mouth sores and acne from her mask.

Last week, Superintendent Mike Jennings said he wanted to keep the masks because a survey revealed about 200 parents would keep kids at home if the mandate was lifted and there are very few options for these students at this point in the year.

Jamie Bates, a concerned parent, said her daughter is staying home the rest of the year until the mask mandate is lifted. “You’re concerned about the education of students and I’d like to point out there were over 750 students that stayed home from school today. 750 students were not educated and that is your fault,’ Bates said.

NCSD sent a message to parents over the weekend saying they are working on submitting a variance on May 10. Bates and other community members urged the board to complete it faster.

Trustee Kianna Smith reacted to the demonstrators today with a statement that says: “While I can understand some of the frustration surrounding masks and respect everyone’s right to have their voice heard, I think many people in the community have forgotten that the board has a responsibility not just to the majority but to all of the students, staff, and constituents we serve. We must take all information and possible consequences into consideration; we cannot blindly follow public opinion and hope for the best. I am also disappointed to see the amount of attention this issue has gotten relative to other decisions the board has made that have had a much larger impact on the education of our students,” Smith said.

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