MEQUON — Honks from cars resounded throughout the front of Homestead High School supporting more than 75 parents protesting to loosen the mask mandates for students in the Mequon-Thiensville School District.
Many of the parents gathered with signs that said the word choice. "I’m not saying no masks, I think everybody has a choice whether or not they want to put a mask on themselves, on their body, or on their child."
"You can only sit around and watch that happen for so long before you feel that you want something done," said Amber Schroeder, a mom of three student in the district. Schroeder decided to keep her youngest child at home for the year fearing the mask mandate would cause more harm than help prevent. "One of my biggest fears would be that he would have his face covered and he would start eating something that maybe he was anaphylactically allergic to and his lips and his mouth would start swelling and the teacher wouldn't be able to see that and he at only 7 years old would be too afraid to take his mask off and speak for him self."
But as for her other two kids in school, Schroeder believes the mandate has taken a toll on their mental health causing social anxiety and depression. "Children don't make eye contact; they're not smiling at you. You can't see somebody's features, you can't see their mouth, you can't see how their mouth, you can't see how they're feeling."
On top of the mental health aspect, some parents say the masks cause headaches. "All three of our children have headaches and have gone to doctors for them and the masks make it worse wearing them 7 hours a day," said Ellen Willman.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 46% of residents have been vaccinated in Ozaukee County. This data is what many MTSD parents are clinging to despite some of their students not being of age to receive the vaccine just yet.
Alongside loosening the district's mask mandate, parents are also demanding for in person school board meetings as well as either removing contact tracing or giving parent the option as to whether or not their child needs to quarantine.
Superintendent Dr. Mathew Joynt is expected to share an update regarding the district's COVID-19 mitigation plan at the Monday evening board meeting.