Two Rochester Public Schools parents react to mask policy changes

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Many Rochester Public Schools (RPS) students and staff can ditch the masks when school starts on Monday.

The decision was voted on by the school board that allows students 6-years-old and older to have the option to mask up.

Students 5-years-old and younger are required to wear masks. The district said because that age group is too young to be vaccinated, they should continue to wear face coverings.

Karin Charron, an RPS parent, has been an advocate against mask mandates from the beginning. She wishes the district would end a face-covering rule altogether.

“It is very troubling that they are lifting the mask mandate for only a portion of the student population,” she said.

Charron’s concern is how masks can negatively impact children.

“It is not a complete lift and end to masking requirements and that is extremely concerning the youngest kids are the ones that are the most effective having tremendous struggles with their learning. Their language and reading skills are not where they need to be. And their social-emotional well-being is not where it needs to be,” she said.

Another parent, Stephanie Whitehorn, is indifferent about the district’s decision.

“I don’t have a feeling of happiness or unhappiness regarding a mask. I guess the fact that it’s been lifted, is some people may feel happy about it. Germs are germs. I just hope that people keep their sick kids at home, so they can stop spreading germs. All kinds of germs,” she said.

Charron believes that overall, the decision to wear face coverings should be up to the parents and the students themselves.

Her children are older than 5-years-old but she still feels compelled to speak up for parents of younger children.

“When I hear things about other people’s kids as a mom, my heart goes out to them,” Charron said. “I think that it’s violating, and that it’s harmful. I just want kids to be able to go to school normally like they’re supposed to be.”

Whitehorn hopes students and staff stay healthy to prevent COVID outbreaks.

“I just still hope that people practice good hygiene, maintain good distance. Yeah, it’s people who may feel more comfortable, still wearing a mask because that may be their option because you don’t know who may be affected in their households,” she said.

Click here for more information on the RPS mask policy.

RELATED STORY: RPS board votes unanimously to end masking requirement

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