State Watch

Seattle students walk out of classrooms over lifting of mask rules

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More than 100 Seattle Public Schools (SPS) students staged a walkout on Monday in protest of the district’s decision to lift its mask mandate, The Seattle Times reported

Students from Franklin, Chief Sealth International, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Nova, and Center high schools showed up at a rally at district headquarters, urging SPS Superintendent Brent Jones to reinstate the mandate.

The newly formed Seattle Student Union sent a letter to the school board and Jones last week warning it would take action if the mask rules were not reinstated.

The student union has demanded stronger safety protocols since January and threatened to walk out after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced plans to end mask requirements in schools, child care facilities and most other businesses, according to The Seattle Times. 

“It’s absolutely maddening we have to take time away from our education to fight for safety and health,” Franklin High School sophomore Marigold Wong told the paper. 

Nova High School senior Eridon Stewart said that she and her mother have asthma, adding they are immunocompromised and could die from the coronavirus. 

“Every time we try to get hasty and toss our masks off, we have another spike and another thousand people die,” Stewart said. 

In a statement on Monday, SPS Assistant Superintendent of Public Affairs Bev Redmond said the district lifted its mask requirement in alignment with the recent guidance from the state’s Department of Health and Public Health, adding it supports their students speaking out on the issue. 

SPS said the students who walked out are expected to be marked with an unexcused absence for missing class, the Seattle newspaper noted. 

“We watched as students in our classrooms grappled with the implications of this change on their lives and the lives of their families and friends who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated,” said a statement from a Seattle teachers union, which has also rallied against dropping the mandate. “Students were not given any voice in this change or how it would be implemented.”

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus restrictions face mask mandate Jay Inslee mask mandate Seattle Seattle Public Schools Washington

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