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Audio of Linn-Mar teacher pressuring students to wear masks has some parents upset

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) -A student in the Linn-Mar Community School District recorded audio of a teacher pressuring students to wear masks. That’s not sitting well with some parents in the district who don’t want their kids wearing masks.

In the video, the teacher is heard saying, “Will I be happy if you’re not wearing a mask, no, you’re putting me at risk, you’re putting your classmates at risk, you’re being selfish.”

Matt Rollinger has children in the Linn-Mar School District and is choosing not to mask them.

“If a parent wants their child to wear a mask, I fully support that,” he said. “If their parent wants their child not to, I fully support that as well.”

He says he was asked by other parents who don’t support masking to speak up about the audio for students and staff who aren’t wearing them anymore

“It could traumatize a kid,” he said. “It is flat-out bullying. Is what that is. You are telling a child who probably a child who up to this point probably looked up to you for more things than you ever knew.”

The president of the Iowa State Education Association, Mike Beranek, says the governor signing the bill at night put teachers in an impossible situation.

“This bill was signed late in the evening and it was put into action right away,” he said. “So when educators went into their school building the next morning, they had no idea this had been signed.”

He would like to see school districts follow CDC guidelines and mask up until the end of the year, with teachers setting an example.

“There are going to be individuals who don’t wear masks,” he said. “I guess that is a personal choice of theirs. The one thing our educators need to continue to do is to make sure our students are safe and healthy, and one of the best protocols is to wear masks.”

Near Excelsior Middle School, two eighth-graders were hanging out, one wearing a mask, the other not.

“All of our teachers and everything have told us it doesn’t come down to anything political,” said 8th grader Tate Merrilo. “It doesn’t come down to anything friendship-wise, it doesn’t need to end friendships or anything, just comes down to personal preference.”

“I don’t really feel pressured I feel like it’s kind of just people’s decision if they want to or not,” said 8th-grader MaClain Felber. “I feel like it’s just stay safe but obviously it’s everyone’s decision.”

In a statement, Superintendent Shannon Bisgard said “Our Linn-Mar teachers and administrators have responded admirably to this sudden change in the law. We respect each family’s decision on the wearing of face masks. The district cannot comment further on a personnel matter.”

See the video below to hear the full audio:

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