Florida 10-year-old asks school board to lift mask mandate in viral video

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A 10-year-old Florida boy slammed his local school board during a public meeting last week, calling the district’s mask mandate unfair to kids during an emergency session on reopening guidelines.

The boy, later identified as John, begins by describing himself as a student at Felix A. Williams Elementary school in Martin County.

“Please make masks optional today,” he said. “It would be so awesome to end the school year on a really happy note like that.”

Following his remarks, the board voted 4-1 to keep masks mandatory for only the 12 remaining days of the current school year. Masks will become optional for summer school students beginning June 1.

In two minutes and 43 seconds, John makes an appeal to the board to end the mandate, claiming that an unmasked teacher has repeatedly ordered him and other students to keep their masks on when they attempt to drink water outside.

“She had her mask down the entire time while she was yelling at us, which makes me and all my friends very mad,” he said. “This happens a lot, and it seems unfair teachers take their masks off while they yell at us kids and that we need to pull ours up. I asked my mom if there is a word for this, and she said there is: ‘hypocrisy.’”

He said extended mask-wearing gave him headaches and made him feel “claustrophobic,” and argued that masks often stick to his face in the Florida heat, causing him anxiety and stress. 

“All of this seems unfair, and it doesn’t make sense,” the boy told board members. “I miss seeing people’s faces. I miss the way things used to be. I’m scared they’ll never go back to normal. Breathing freely doesn’t seem like something we should have to ask any other people for permission for.”

The board meeting last week was an emergency session to review the district’s COVID-19 protocols, according to the Martin County Schools’ website.

The district announced in April that it will return to full in-person learning beginning in the fall.

A district spokeswoman told Fox News Tuesday that Martin County Schools had been among the first to reopen for in-person learning last August with measures in place to protect the health and safety of students and staff.

She also sent a graphic detailing the district’s reopening guidelines, which recommend vaccines for staff and students over 12, staying home when sick, maintaining clean hand hygiene and optional mask-wearing, among other suggestions.

“Effective June 1, 2021, masks will be optional for all students and staff,” she said in a statement. “Although they are part of our risk mitigation strategies, vaccinations are not mandatory.”

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