Parents protest mask mandate at North East School Board meeting

Coronavirus

Parents in Erie County against school masking may take legal action.

It was a small group protesting outside of the North East Elementary School during Thursday’s board meeting, but, of the parents that spoke, Paula Henry might take legal action if the masking rules don’t change.

For Henry, whose children attend North East Elementary, this protest is personal. She said her kids were asked to leave school for not wearing the proper face coverings.

“They were not wearing masks,” Henry said. “They had shields on, and the school didn’t think that was appropriate. So they sent my second [grader] and kindergartener home today.”

Even before the school asked her kids to leave for the day, Henry gathered a group of people to protest during the board meeting.

“It’s a small group of parents that are against our rights being infringed upon, particularly masks,” she said. “I am going to put them on notice that they have infringed on my rights and my children’s rights and give them a warning to change their policy or they will be getting certified legal papers in the mail.”

Parents from different school districts who agree with Henry also joined in to make their voices heard.

The statewide mask mandate announced by Governor Tom Wolf applies to all students, K-12, and takes effect Sept. 7th.

“The school district is obligated to follow the Secretary of Health’s order,” said Timothy Sennett, the solicitor for the North East School District, “and we believe the Secretary of Health did have the power to issue the order. Therefore, we will follow it.”

Parents willing to take the matter to court. Amanda Orsefski is another parent whose children attend the Erie School District.

“I’ve been talking to an attorney and he even has on his website that there is absolutely no legality to the mask mandate,” said Orsefski. “So I am looking forward to the lawsuit that is about to take place against the Department of Health, Kathy Dahlkemper and, hopefully, all the way to Governor Wolf.”

The parents said they will continue to protest at different schools, even after the state mandate goes into effect.

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