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Two weeks ago, the Ankeny School Board changed its policy that requires anyone from the public who speaks at a board meeting to keep their mask on during their three-minute presentation. Kimberly Reicks took off her mask prior to speaking two weeks ago, and the board paused the meeting, ended the live stream and evacuated the meeting room.
The same thing happened last night when Emily Peterson took off her mask in order to speak to the board, which was socially distanced and would not be exposed to Peterson for more than three minutes — not near the 15 minutes that supposedly requires a mask to be worn inside.
You can watch it here beginning at the 30-second mark. You can hear the board president ask Peterson to keep her mask on and warning that they will not continue without a mask being worn.
Peterson said she has a medical exemption from her doctor, but did not bring it with her. Another Ankeny District representative asked if she had her exemption with her.
“On April 5 you accepted my exemption and I spoke before the board without a mask on April 5,” she said. “You accepted it. I don’t know why today is different. Please just let me have my minutes. You should be honoring exemptions in the state of Iowa. This is not right.”
Peterson went on to speak anyway despite most of the board evacuating the room.
She said that a religious exemption to the forced masking was used to stigmatize her daughter.
The school didn’t allow her within six feet of others and put a plexiglass barrier around her desk.
“My daughter was the one who was well yet she was treated as if she was diseased and discriminated against,” Peterson said.
She pointed out that the school is violating its own guidelines, which states face coverings should not be on children younger than two, if anyone has trouble breathing, anyone who has sensory concerns or is unconscious or incapacitated or otherwise cannot remove the covering without assistance.
Peterson said her daughter has an IEP in both speech, literacy and math.
“My daughter was not considered,” Peterson said. “In addition to emotional trauma my daughter and others are suffering, you have seen the physical trauma these masks are causing too. You have seen a child with blisters on her face and a staph infection that would not heal because of the mask she was forced to wear. And you heard from an American Frontline Doctor who told you what you are forcing on children is hurting them, physically and emotionally. By definition, abuse is harm caused to another and done repeatedly. That is what you are doing to our children — it’s abuse.”
Afterward, Peterson told The Iowa Standard she explained to the board she was able to speak without a mask on April 5 due to her medical exemption and said she believes they’re violating HIPAA.
“I presented my information before the board whether they wanted to hear it or not,” she said. “I did not get the chance to ask them what they’re afraid of. They just don’t want to listen and it’s time we should hold them accountable.”
Peterson said parents should have a choice.
“You have no idea how many children’s faces I have seen with rashes, blisters, staph,” she said. “These children don’t have a voice, so that’s why we’re here. We’re here to be a voice for all of those parents who haven’t had one yet. All of those children wearing those muzzles every day. If we unite together we can hold them accountable and tell them we need a choice. This is our choice, we are the parents, not them. They don’t own our children.”