Parents rally against school district’s mask mandate

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LEHMAN TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Parents in a local school district want their voices heard when it comes to their children having to wear masks in school.

It’s a debate that brought out hundreds to a community rally Tuesday evening in Luzerne County.

Students at the Lake Lehman School District are required to wear masks. And while many parents expressed their opposition to the mandate Tuesday night, students Eyewitness News spoke with before the rally say they believe it’s important to wear them.

“There is some common ground here, and there’s one thing I do know is that we all love our children and grandchildren,” parent Jamie Walsh said.

Walsh has two children in the Lake Lehman School District. He believes his children should not be mandated to wear masks in school, sharing his opinions during an anti-mask mandate rally Tuesday night.

“The concerts, the wine fests, Luzerne County Fair, and other crowded public events that people attended cheek-to-cheek, without masks or tracing them after they left these events. Some of these same people come back to our community and put their mask on their face so they can pretend that it is dangerous, that a class of kindergarteners or a crowded lunch room table at the high school will spread this virus uncontrollably and destroy Lake Lehman School District forever,” Walsh said.

Featured speakers included a Berks County-based attorney hired by Walsh, discussing legal arguments against the state’s school mask mandate.

“I feel like the only reason we are masking and contact tracing our children again is due to an unconstitutional mandate from the Department of Health,” Walsh said.

Walsh requested to hold the rally at the district’s football stadium and it was approved by Superintendent James McGovern.

“There is no affiliations of the opinions of the Lake Lehman School District. Our opinion is that of what we approved in the December board meeting in which we will support the Department of Health mandates and orders according to masking,” McGovern said.

Lake Lehman students Eyewitness News caught up with after field hockey practice say if wearing a mask keeps them in class, it’s worth it.

“I think it’s a lot better than being at home behind a screen because we didn’t really learn as much and it was hard to learn at home, so I think it’s better being in school with a mask,” senior Grace O’Donnell said.

“It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m so used to it like this pandemic has been going on for so long so, we’re just used to it at this point. I feel like it’s important to wear a mask as well. So, I don’t know why people are really going against it, I think it’s important that safety comes first,” senior Sophia Dabsheh said.

More than 300 people attended. Walsh says he will follow up with the district at the next school board meeting.

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