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An Ankeny mother told the district’s school board it is time to end the abusive practice of mandatory masking in the Ankeny School District.

Emily Peterson is a mother of four who homeschools her three oldest children due to how the district handled the COVID pandemic. But her daughter is in special education and, as Peterson said, she has “struggled like never before academically, socially and emotionally.”

“She went from a child who loved school to a child who dreads going to school each day due to your mask policy forced upon her,” Peterson said. “Just this morning she woke in the middle of the night full of anxiety and dread saying she didn’t want to go back to school because she’s forced to wear a mask. As a mom, this breaks my heart as I continue to subject her to these unnecessary harms caused by the mask she has to wear on her face all day, every day in school.

“I can no longer sit back and do nothing. I could not live with myself if I made that decision.”

The board did not hear from Kimberly Reicks, whose daughter developed an infection near her mouth and now has to sit secluded in the classroom because she cannot medically wear a mask.

Peterson said she’s hopeful Reicks can tell her story before the board at a future meeting she was denied to do so in-person on Monday.

“It has been more than a year now since this pandemic has entered into our world and changed our children’s lives forever,” Peterson said. “This has lasting scars that our children may never recover from and that we can’t see or fail to see. In the beginning, we as parents trusted you as school board members. We believed you had the best interest of our children at heart. But now is the time to say enough.”

Peterson cautioned the board about its response to the virus is worse than the virus itself.

“If measures of mandatory masks are causing all types of harm to students emotionally and physically – depression, suicide, anxiety and isolation at rates never experienced before – health-wise seeing a rise in lung infections, staph infections and other skin conditions – if what you are doing for our children is obviously causing harm, it is time to start calling it for what it is – abuse.

“It is time to stop the abuse. This should not be something forced on our children. The forced wearing of masks needs to stop today.”

The district contends it did not deny anyone access to the meeting. Anyone not on the agenda was given access online and told they’d be able to speak that way.

However, the district did deny anyone from the public access to attend the meeting in-person – except for the volleyball team.

Aaron Johnson, the president of the board, said it certainly wants to hear from the public.

“They certainly have the right to address us,” he said.

Author: Jacob Hall