Anti-mask protestors have voices heard ahead of Manatee County’s School Board meeting

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:38 PM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Parents and students in opposition to Manatee County schools’ mask mandate protested outside the school district headquarters in Bradenton Tuesday, waving signs as traffic passed by. Inside, during a school board meeting, they told the board the mask-wearing policy should be eliminated.

“The reason why they have to lift this mask mandate now, is every day our children are suffering from physical and psychological effects,” said Jonathan Riches, one of the protestors.

Masks are expected to be optional this summer and next school year. Those opposed to masks say that’s not soon enough. They want the policy to end now. School district officials say that can’t happen because the required 30-day notification period would end after the school year.

“We’ve only got a couple weeks left of school, we just want to make it to the end of this school year,” said Mike Barber, spokesperson for the Manatee County School District. “And we hope that moving forward, masks will be optional and we’ll be able to return to a sense of normalcy.”

This continues to be a heated debate. Currently, students and staff in Manatee County schools have to wear masks inside school buildings and classrooms.

“I would like to see the masks removed because you cannot breathe, you cannot talk, you cannot think with a mask on,” said Allison Sneed, a Manatee County parent.

The Manatee County School District says the school board is expected to make a decision on the COVID protocols, including masks, at their June 8 meeting.

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