HAZELWOOD, Mo. — The Hazelwood School District voted to keep its mask order in place as the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to rise in the St. Louis area.
Several other school districts in the region are also weighing whether or not to ease up on masking regulations. This comes amid heavy pressure from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
A Cole County judge recently ruled that only elected officials can enact health orders, which makes most school mask orders illegal, according to Schmitt.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported that 24 children are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations since September.
“We clearly just haven’t convinced people that they’re in harm’s way,” said Dr. Clay Dunagan, head of the task force. “Our political system has put this in turmoil, and it is very unfortunate that politics has overridden science.”
In a statement, Schmitt responds to the task force, saying: “The St. Louis Pandemic Task Force can continue to stoke fear, but St. Louis public schools and other area school districts have had mask mandates for over a year, which proves that masks don’t work if they’re reporting a ‘surge’ in cases. It’s time that we recognize that this virus is endemic and that people should have the ability to make their own choices for their kids.”
Some Hazelwood parents said they support the mask requirement, while others questioned its effectiveness.
“It would make me feel uneasy because you don’t know what other parents are doing for their kids or where they’ve been,” said parent Adrien Teepe.
“They should wear a mask, but think about a kid, how many kids are going to keep a mask on their face?” said parent Edward Crumer.
Hazelwood is the first, but certainly not the last school to discuss this.
On Thursday, Rockwood and Lindbergh will also vote on a mask optional plan for next semester. The Parkway School Board will meet tomorrow.