‘Unmask our kids’: Parents across CT calling for removal of facemask mandate in schools

New Haven

NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — Parents across the state rallied outside of Board of Education meetings Thursday night, calling for the removal of the mask requirement for kids in schools.

More than 20 parents and students stood outside the offices of the Naugatuck Board of Education Thursday night, making noise, hoping they were heard.

“We’d like the choice to unmask our kids in school instead of being dictated and mandated by the state,” said Aaron McCool, one of the protest organizers.

The protest happened while board members were inside their offices conducting a meeting that was closed to the public but available on Zoom.

Some chanted over their megaphones to cars driving by: “this school board refuses to meet in person.”

Right now, under Governor Ned Lamont’s order, COVID-19 facemasks are required in K-12 schools and childcare facilities.

News 8 asked protestors why they’re so against children wearing facemasks at school. Several cited health concerns.

“My child comes home with a rash by the end of the week, a terrible rash on his face and I think that masks should be optional,” said Vanessa Van Horn.

News 8 asked Van Horn about schools and the state saying facemasks help to protect kids from the spread of COVID-19.

“Well, I would love for them to show me the actual factual science behind that,” she said.

The group says the Naugatuck Board of Education has ignored their pleas for dialogue. They’re pressing for parental choice when it comes to facemasks in public schools.

“We need to be listened to,” Van Horn said. “We need to be heard.”

News 8 reached out to the Superintendent of Naugatuck Public Schools. Christopher Montini responded, in part:

Naugatuck Public Schools values feedback from parents and the community. That said, as a public school district, we must follow the requirements of the CT State Department of Education. Mask wearing in school buildings for the current 2020-2021 school year is a requirement of the CT State Department of Education. 

“As a parent, it’s my responsibility to decide what’s right for my child,” said McCool.

“I have no problem with any parent or child that would like to wear a mask,” said Alicia Makowski. “I think that is a personal choice and I feel like personal choices have been stomped all over.”

The parents say there are many groups like theirs all over Connecticut.

In fact, also on Thursday night, parents gathered in Southington before the Board of Education meeting there.

People arrived at the municipal center holding signs, urging everyone walking inside – including members of the Board of Ed. – to rethink the mask mandate and to unmask kids in school.

They hope their message is heard and the change will happen for the upcoming school year.

Michael Kryzanski, a parent, told News 8, “We want to get back to normal, return to normal, everyone wants that. I think unmasking our kids is a step in that direction.”

Joe Baczewski, vice-chairperson of Southington Board of Education said, “This is how government is supposed to work. I encourage people to get out and let their voices be heard.”

People who showed up in Southington Thursday have made their way into the meeting to speak. The governor’s office said they’ll continue to monitor guidance from the CDC from the summer and next school year.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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