Parents came out once again to voice their displeasure with the Auburn City Schools Board of Education Tuesday following the board’s decision on July 29 to require masks inside their school buildings, a decision that follows the expertise and recommendations by local and national health professionals.
Local parent Andrea Tobin, who spoke against the mask requirement at the board’s July 29 meeting before the unanimous vote in favor of the mask requirement, said her daughter was sent home from school for not wanting to wear a mask on her first day back at school.
“I went and picked up my daughter … from there, I went to Creekside and picked up my son. I will now be homeschooling both of my children,” Tobin shouted at the board. “Her first day of school was ruined. I blame all of you sitting here tonight for that. I am appalled that the school has become a prison. Instead of educating my children, we are policing them. ...You’re only out for control. Your only interest is indoctrinating our children with your corrupt agenda.”
An Auburn High School student spoke out against the requirement too, and said he had also been sent home from school on his first day for not wanting to wear a mask.
“I just want to breathe how God designed me to breathe. I wasn’t born with a mask, and I don’t want to wear one now,” the student said. “If you think I’m alone, I’ve got 900 other students who’ve signed a petition in the past two weeks that agree with me on this. I’m not alone, and I’ll tell you right now—we hate you guys. We cannot stand you. You’ve made our lives a living hell and you’re ruining our high school career.”
Of the many speakers that night who spoke on the mask requirement, two were in favor of the board’s decision and were met by interruptions and boos from the anti-maskers in attendance while those against the mask requirement were always met with applause.
Auburn resident Michael Halperin said he had lived in Auburn for about 40 years and praised the leadership of Superintendent Cristen Herring in leading the school system. When he suggested the school system offer vaccines to students, he was booed by many in the crowd.
The mask requirement passed by the board requires all individuals to wear masks while inside school buildings and on school buses, with similar requirements having been put into place by Opelika City Schools and Auburn University.
Over the course of the first six weeks of the school year, the schools will collect data on the effectiveness of the requirement by monitoring local and in-school coronavirus case numbers and present their findings to the school board at its Sept. 14 meeting in order to reevaluate the mask requirement or see if it needs to be extended.
As a part of the mask requirement, masks are not required for outside activities like physical education classes, recess or athletics, and school officials said the decision to require face coverings again is based on guidance from local healthcare officials as well as the upward trend of COVID-19 cases in the community.
The decision comes after new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control are now encouraging individuals, even those who have been vaccinated, to wear masks or face coverings indoors in public especially if one has a weakened immune system in order to protect against the Delta variant.
As of Wednesday, over 612,900 Americans have died from the coronavirus, according to data from the CDC.