KINGWOOD — Not all Preston County parents agree with the current school mask mandate.
Roughly 20 parents, some with their children, protested the mandate Friday. They stood on the sidewalk across from the courthouse annex holding signs and waving at vehicles as drivers honked in support.
“We’re here because our kids have rights,” Rodney Zinn said. “My child had effects from wearing a mask. It’s up to the parents to have a right to choose.”
“It’s not right for kids to have to wear masks,” Tim Annon said. “They are trying to make puppets out of us.”
Nicole Sleppy agreed.
“I’m here because we have medical freedom in the United States, and this should be our choice,” she said.
Whitney Johnston agreed.
“I believe children are losing their freedom,” she said. “They (school officials) are forcing them to wear masks in the gym and outside. It’s like being in a hot car all day.”
“We are here (protesting) because our kids have rights.” Zinn said. “We have a right to parent our kids as we choose.”
The mask mandate passed during an emergency meeting of the board of education last month. Board members voted 3-2 in favor of requiring masks with Jeff Zigray and Pam Feathers voting against it.
Preston County Health Department Director V.J. Davis said when he was asked by school officials about a mask mandate he recommended they follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
“We gave the recommendation. It was their (board of education) choice whether to follow it or not,” he said. “It’s (masking) not 100% foolproof, but masks do add an extra layer of protection.”
Superintendent of Schools Steve Wotring said he couldn’t speak for the board of education.
“I believe they saw the rising numbers (in COVID cases), and the county is in the red,” he said. “They did it for safety reasons.”
For more information from the CDC and schools, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/parent-faqs.html.