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Parents Angrily Protest Continued School Mask Mandates.

As COVID-19-related cases continue to decline, pressure on education and state officials to eliminate mask mandates at schools keeps growing.

On the afternoon of Saturday, moreover, 200 Mount Pleasant School district parents along with community members, as well as a few children staged a raucous protest in the Four Corners in Thornwood, insisting that local districts and parents be permitted in their discretion to decide on their decisions regarding whether or not students are allowed to wear masks in the classroom.

The protest took place three days after Governor. Kathy Hochul de-activated the mandate to wear masks for business but kept the license in areas to schools and settings for congregate gatherings at least until the beginning of the week of March. It was also held that the state’s infection rates on Friday and Thursday sank to 2.6 and 2.5 percent, respectively, as per COVID’s tracker for the state, which is the lowest rate since the beginning of November.

Westchester County and the entire Mid-Hudson region had a 2.6 percent read Friday. This was just under 3 percent for seven days which was down from an earlier January peak of more than 20 percent.

“I believe rules need to be followed, but I also need to believe that at a given point that once we have information, we’re allowed to make a decision that’s best for us,” stated parent Mario Prospero. “I think that two years into this now, there’s been enough collected data that said we can move on now.”

Prospero stated that the families who want to allow the children wearing masks be able to decide what is most beneficial for their children while being respected and respected because of their choice.

Along with Mount Pleasant teachers who participated in the protest on Saturday, a few parents said that irreparable harm is being caused to children, especially children who are the youngest and students with learning disabilities, hearing or language difficulties.

The parent Christina Fiasconaro, whose preschool-aged son has a disability, claimed that her child was inaccessible to proper treatment for over the past two years because his therapist and friends wear masks, which makes it more difficult for him to master the language.

“He’s entering kindergarten next year at a severe disadvantage to other typically abled children,” Fiasconaro explained. “His therapy provider and his classmates continue to wear masks. He’s not able to comprehend the language as it should be given his age.”

Hawthorne Elementary School Reading expert Karen Griffin, who works with children from grades K-2, explained that when she tries to assist students, she has found that sometimes they don’t understand her and struggle to comprehend her. As an advocate of keeping up with the latest research, Griffin said that recent weeks have shown that the evidence supports the elimination of masks in schools.

Some of the more than 200 parents, children and other community members who turned out in Thornwood Saturday afternoon to demand that in-school mask mandates be removed, arguing that children are being shortchanged.

“I just feel like we’re not getting the whole child out of them with these masks,” she added. “They’re more inclined not to speak, and we’re not getting as much, I think, as we can out of them.”

In her last briefing, Hochul said there would be tests when most districts begin their new school year in February. An assessment will be conducted by the end of that week. 28. Hochul also said there is “a strong possibility” the school mask requirement could be lifted soon if current trends remain.

Anger at state officials and, to a lesser degree, school officials have boiled over at recent school board meetings in the region. A virtual forum jointly hosted on Thursday night at school districts Mount Pleasant and Valhalla school districts included a variety of very negative remarks to elected officials.

One of the officials who attended the panel was State Senator. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), who chairs the Education Committee, said she understands the frustration and has been pushing the Governor’s office to establish an objective standard over the last two months.

“I believe the time has come for metrics to be openly shared that give guidance to districts and give guidance to parents,” Mayer declared.

She said it is common for parents who have children who have special needs or those with immunocompromised conditions who aren’t looking to get masks taken off.

The state senator representing the region, Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro), admitted that he knows it’s been a tough two years. Still, through exercising personal responsibility, including wearing masks and vaccines if is appropriate, schools and other parts of society will soon free themselves of the restrictions.

“So if we all take personal responsibility, we can be beyond the mandates, and hopefully soon we’ll be out of this, hopefully bringing back some normalcy to the kids who have been so traumatized by this,” Harckham stated.

Mount Pleasant Councilman Jerry Schulman, who attended the rally on Saturday and spent the final twenty-three years of his educational profession as principal and assistant director in Mount Pleasant until his retirement in 2015, said that the data support is getting rid of the masks. He expects that to happen soon when the President’s Week holiday break is over.

“I think it’s time,” Schulman stated. “Kids are getting behind. It’s hurting children, and it’s hurting kids who have special needs and the ESL children, and the English as Second Language kids, the parents who are trying to get their work done.”

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