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Protesters escorted off Southern Boone school property as mask mandate takes effect

Protesters escorted off Southern Boone school property as mask mandate takes effect

ASHLAND, Mo. (KMIZ)

Southern Boone Elementary School's new mask mandate was met with some pushback Friday morning, with anti-mask protesters showing up at the elementary school to oppose the requirement.

Southern Boone Elementary School started requiring masks Friday after Superintendent Christopher Felmlee announced the school hit its benchmark to send the school into a temporary mask mandate. Felmlee said 15% of students are out of school due to COVID-19 cases, with 82 students quarantined, five active student cases and one active staff case.

The masking policy is part of the district’s Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service Plan and was approved in August.

Brad Bartow, a Southern Boone parent said, "We're just going out of our comfort zone to stand up and say no more masks. It should be a freedom of choice if you want to wear a mask, want to wear two masks, wear your mask but don't make me require my child to."

Felmlee said in a message to the district after the protest that administators asked protesters to move across the street to prevent disruptions as students were being dropped off for classes.

"The school district’s top priority is to keep everyone safe and prevent any possible disruptions that may affect the district," Felmlee wrote. "The Ashland Police Department was called when the group of people did not comply with the school district’s request. A police officer asked the group to gather across the street and they did comply. There were no other issues this morning and it is business as usual at our schools."

ABC 17 News asked Ashland police about today's protest, and they said no one was arrested.

"They have a right to protest, which both the Ashland Police Department and school district respects," said Andrew Worrall with Ashland Police. "School property is publicly funded, but access can and is limited by legislation. In this case, the school district is lawful in asking for protesters to vacate school property."

Bartow also said he'd like to see a better turnout at the district's school board meetings.

Watch video of protesters outside the elementary school in the player below.

Students will be required to wear masks beginning Friday and lasting until at least Thursday, Sept. 30.

The district will reevaluate on Sept. 30 and will lift the mandate only if the number of students out of school drops below 15%. If not, students will be required to wear masks for an additional two weeks.

Masks will continue to be recommended but not required at other Southern Boone schools.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Whether by intent or accident, the collection and evaluation of COVID stats is so sloppy it’s hard to make sense of them. “15% of students are out of school due to COVID-19 cases”. Does that mean they’re out sick or out with a positive test? “82 students quarantined”. Sick or positive test? “Five active student cases and one active staff case”. Sick or positive test? What part of the percentages are these six active cases? I have no idea.

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