ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — More than 100 students in the Rockwood School District walked onto school grounds without a face covering Thursday morning to protest the district’s mask policy.
Mary LaPak, Rockwood’s executive director of communications, said 20 students at Eureka High School refused to wear a mask when they arrived at school.
Elementary school students in Eureka, Geggie, Uthoff, and Blevins also came to class without masks. The remaining 15 schools in the district each had one or two students who refused to comply with the policy.
“There’s a whole lot of kids standing up for this. We feel like we actually have a chance to change something,” said Trenton Edgar, a student at Eureka High School.
Earlier this week, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent letters to school districts and public health agencies across the state saying they must rescind and stop enforcing public health orders like mask mandates and quarantines.
Kenny Diekmann said he informed other students about Schmitt’s letter.
“I walked into school with no mask and a stack of pamphlets containing the attorney general’s letter of Missouri and handing them out to students,” student Kenny Diekmann said.
Some students who participated in not wearing a mask said they were pulled into the office to speak with administrators.
“They gave us two choices. We could go home and not come back until we had a mask on, or we could go back to class like nothing ever happened,” said one student, who did not want to be identified.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt has asked parents to report school districts still enforcing mask mandates.
“I’m fed up. If people want to mask their kids, that’s their choice, but we should have the freedom and choice to not mask our kids,” said parent Morgan Veazey, who has reported the Rockwood School District to the Attorney General’s Office twice.
Veazey said she took her daughter to Eureka Early Childhood Thursday without a mask on, and she was denied entry.
“I’m not going to give in, what they’re doing is illegal,” she said.
A spokesperson for Schmitt said as of Thursday afternoon, his office had received more than 3,200 emails with an overwhelming majority of them opposing mask mandates.
Schmitt has now sent out over 33 cease and desist letters to Missouri school districts telling them to immediately drop orders like mask mandates.
The Rockwood School District said in response to Thursday’s protests, “There will be no discipline, but we are following up with those parents letting them know they cannot come to school if they are not going to follow our safety protocols.”
A parent in the Rockwood School District shared an email from their student’s middle school principal, which said that their child will need to stay at home until they return with a mask.
The email stated:
“Today your child refused to follow rules and regulations related to mitigation strategies for the safety and security of all students. As you know, we made every effort to allow them to remain at school today. Though we allowed them to stay in the office today, we don’t have the space or staff to continue that practice moving forward. Beginning on Friday, December 10, 2021, if your child chooses not to follow the safety protocols outlined in our Rockwood Safe Together plan, they will need to remain at home.” The letter continued, “Your child may return to school when they are ready to follow our Safe Together protocols designed to keep our students and staff safe and in school. As with any absence, your child may access their school work through Canvas.”
Some high school students said they plan to give a presentation at the district’s next board meeting, but until then, they will mask up and follow the district’s protocols.