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Group protests masks in downtown Cedar Rapids after schools put mandates in place

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 4:50 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -More school districts are starting to issue mask mandates after a federal judge blocked Iowa’s law forbidding mask requirements earlier this week. The mandates led a group of around 40 to protest Thursday in downtown Cedar Rapids.

”We will never tell anyone to not wear a mask, we’re asking for the same respect back. And let us decide what is right for our children,” Matt Rollinger told us, a Linn-Mar parent. We talked just hours before The Linn-Mar school board met to discuss putting a mask mandate in place.

“I’m hopeful that they don’t. I know there’s been a lot of parents that have reached out to the board, to administration, voicing their concerns,” Rollinger said.

During a rather tense meeting, Linn-Mar’s board passed a mask mandate for students in grades 6th and under starting Monday. The pk-6th grade mandate will last until the age group has access to a COVID-19 vaccine for 60 days. The District reported 32 positive cases among students as of last week.

Also attending the protest were families from the College Community School District. That district does not have a mandate in place, but the board will meet on Monday to discuss the issue. Their District reported 75 positive cases as of last Thursday among students and staff.

”Masks should be a choice. I realize there’s people who want to protect themselves but don’t force it on us,” Jason Schunter said, whose kids go to Prairie.

Families in the Cedar Rapids Community School District were also a part of the protest. Last week, Iowa’s second largest school district reported 96 positive cases among students. CRCSD’s mask mandate in schools started on Wednesday.

”We’re just going to get louder. That’s all that’s going to happen if they just ignore us and these kids then we’ll just get louder,” Melissa Duffield said, an aunt of Cedar Rapids students.

Duffield said she coaches volleyball for students from various districts. She believes forcing children to wear masks negatively impacts them. She told us she’s noticed kids with more anxiety and other issues from wearing masks.

”I worked with kids 7 days a week from 10 years old to 18 years old and I’m going to tell you it is abuse 100% when you have kids in your practice saying I can’t breathe,” she said.

As mandates take effect, those we spoke with told us they plan to make sure their voices are heard on the matter.

“We’re not going to back down this time. We are going to stand up for our kids and our rights,” Rollinger said.

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