MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) - From the high school to the middle school, parents in the Franklin Regional School District made sure their message was heard: "our children, our choice."
Parent Erin Lorenz organized the protest of about 40 parents Wednesday. She has a son in the high school who is medically exempt and doesn't wear a mask. But Lorenz says masks negatively impact people physically, emotionally and mentally.
Medical experts say masks help stem the spread of COVID-19, which the state says is infecting more and more children. When announcing the mandate, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said cases in kids rose nearly 300% in about six weeks.
Lorenz says parents and local leaders should decide if their children wear a mask, not Gov. Tom Wolf's administration.
"Our local elected officials know what's best for our community, what's best for kids," said Lorenz. "Our school board decided that masks should be optional."
"It isn't right that the school should have to face that, to be put in this position," said Melissa Dominiczak. "And then our children have to decide: can you stay home and get a subpar education or can you come to school and risk other health issues?"
Dominiczak is trying to get her son medically exempt, too. She says he wore a mask every day last year and suffered from migraines. She also believes parents should have the final say.
"If you want to send your kids in with a mask, all the power to you," said Dominiczak. "If you want to keep your kid home, all the power to you. If you want to send your kid without a mask, all the power to you."
The parents say they'll continue to fight for their kids and confront the administration.
Meanwhile, a school district spokesperson says they understand and respect all views. They're legally obligated to uphold the mandate until it's lifted. They'll continue to respond in a way that provides the best outcome for everyone's health and safety.
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