December 5, 2021

Parents Voice Concerns Over Masks in Seekonk Schools

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Parents who are opposed to mask-wearing in schools shared their opinions at Monday’s Seekonk School Committee meeting. Last month, Jeff Riley, Commissioner for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) extended the mask mandate for schools until November 1. With the updated mandate, if a school demonstrates a vaccination rate of 80 percent or more of all students and staff, then vaccinated individuals in that school would no longer be subject to the mask requirement. In alignment with statewide guidance, unvaccinated students and staff would be required to continue wearing masks.

“I feel very sad for some of you,” said Amanda Andreozzi, who has a daughter in a privately-run pre-school. “You are suffering and your children are suffering. I’ve heard stories of children going outside and yet they still can’t take their masks off. I’ve seen videos of staff unmasked in front of masked children. It was very disturbing to watch that.”

Some parents believe the mask policy is having a detrimental effect on their children’s psychological well-being. “It is causing anxiety for these children,” said Krista Matisse-Clifford. “They have so much other stuff to worry about. I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my kids. They’re timid, they’re shy to go anywhere, they’re afraid to do anything. They’re scared to death.”

Parent Luis Sousa chastised the school committee for not letting parents decide whether or not their children should wear masks. “It should have been our decision. You took that away from us, that right, the freedom that we’re supposed to have,” Sousa said.

“We know life would be better without masks, but most people understand we have to follow mandates from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and realize we are trying to keep students and staff safe, while also looking out for others,” Superintendent Rich Drolet said, noting school administrators have reported that students are following the masking mandate. “Students with health conditions have always been able to be exempt from the mask mandate with a doctor's note,” Drolet added.

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