Florida boy, 10, slams school for 'hypocrisy' in forcing students to wear masks in heat and not teachers
A 10-year-old Florida boy, 10, called out his local school board deeming the district’s mask mandate unfair to kids.
During an emergency session on reopening guidelines, the boy who was later reportedly identified as John, spoke before Martin County school board on May 12, 2021, starting his address by describing himself as a student at Felix A Williams Elementary school in Martin County and then went on to appeal to make masks optional and calling out the "hypocrisy" of those who teach him at the school.
"Please make masks optional today," he said. "It would be so awesome to end the school year on a really happy note like that." The state of Florida had reportedly removed its mask mandate on May 3, 2021, but school districts have been free to make their own decisions.
In the 2 minutes and 43 seconds that John takes to the mike to share his experience, he makes an appeal to the board to end the mandate. "A lot of them didn't make any sense to me like the fact that we're not allowed to play on the playground or have student council or turn to face each other at lunch. And we also have to wear masks outside at P.E. and on track."
He claimed that an unmasked teacher 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.’"
Effect on kids
In his speech, the child said that extended mask-wearing gave him headaches and made him feel "claustrophobic", adding that masks often stick to his face in the Florida heat, causing him anxiety and stress.
"Wearing a mask all day makes me feel really tired and gives me really bad headaches. Sometimes I'm at school and I need to lay low in the dark until they're gone," he said. "My mask also sticks to my face when it's hot and it makes it hard to breathe. I feel like I can't catch my breath and that makes me feel claustrophobic and anxious. It's really stressful."
"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."
All measures in place
A district spokeswoman reportedly told Fox News that last August, Martin County Schools had been among the first to reopen for in-person learning with all the necessary measures in place to protect the health and safety of students and staff.
However, a report from a local publication a month later revealed that 15 students at Felix A Williams Elementary School were transitioning to remote learning, home quarantine. The spokeswoman also detailed the district’s reopening guidelines such as recommending vaccines for staff and students over 12, staying home when sick, maintaining clean hand hygiene and optional mask-wearing, among other suggestions.
Following John's remarks, the board ultimately voted 4-1 to keep the mask mandate in place until June 1, when term ends, following which masks will become optional for summer school students beginning June 1.