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Protesters outside Novak Elementary School in Marion want masks to be optional

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 5:36 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Anti-mask protesters have been gathering outside Novak Elementary School in Marion this week. The group says they want people to be able to choose whether they wear a mask instead of having to follow a school mask mandate.

“It’s more about liberty, it’s more about freedom,” said Kyle Hane, a parent of a student in the Linn-Mar Community School District.

“In this group, there are children that are afraid to be bullied, afraid to go to school, they don’t want to wear a mask but they’re afraid they’re going to be bullied or kicked out,” Hane said.

Another parent at the protest said her kids don’t go to Linn-Mar Schools, but she said was there supporting freedom.

“If you don’t like the mandated masks or anything else that they’re mandating in these schools, these schools are optional, you don’t have to do it in the state of Iowa,” said Kate Hill.

She said she pulled her kids out of public schools and took up homeschooling this year.

“I would never put a mask on my kids,” Hill said.

Across the street, a group of Novak Elementary parents and students gathered to show support for the staff on teacher appreciation week.

“They have been asked to do the impossible this year. They’ve been asked to teach in the building, they’ve been asked to teach virtually,” said Andrea Wheatley, a Novak Elementary parent and PTO member.

Brandy Vorhies said her child walks to the school and, like many other kids, has noticed the protesters out front.

“When you hear as a parent that the children are coming into the school upset, you know, starting their morning off. Not a great way to obviously get their day started when they’re seeing protesters on their way to school,” Vorhies said.

The protesters told KCRG-TV9 they want to be clear that they support teachers, too, but that in some cases that’s who they’re standing for.

“We have teachers of this school and lots of other schools around the district that are supporting us and telling us, scream louder for me because I can’t speak up, I’m afraid to lose my job,” said Matt Rollinger, a parent with children in Linn-Mar Schools.

When asked what they hope the protest will accomplish, Hane told TV9:

“I’d like to see the school boards completely overturned. And the people that are on the school boards, they either wake up alright and give us our freedom back or they get booted off the board.”

The protesters said Novak Elementary is just their first stop. They plan to visit other schools. They did not say which school they are headed to next.

The Linn-Mar Community School District says they plan to keep their mask policy in place for the rest of the school year. As for next year, that decision has not yet been made.

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