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Demonstrators gather outside Cheyenne Mountain Junior High to protest district mask mandate

A crowd of parents gathers outside Cheyenne Mountain Junior High on Aug. 25, 2021,  protesting...
A crowd of parents gathers outside Cheyenne Mountain Junior High on Aug. 25, 2021, protesting mandatory masks in schools. District 12, where the junior high is located, recently instated a mask requirement in all district buildings.(KKTV)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:41 AM MDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:02 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Waving signs reading “Unmask our kids,” “God given right to breathe,” and “My body, my choice,” demonstrators gathered outside Cheyenne Mountain Junior High Wednesday to protest the district’s recent mask mandate.

Cheyenne Mountain District 12′s mandate went into effect late last week and requires all students, staff and school visitors to wear masks indoors. As with all things COVID, it was met with mixed reactions, with some parents standing in full support of the move and others, like Mary Anne Fiddler, believing it’s a step too far.

“We’re out here because the day before school started, there was masks recommended, just ‘recommended,’ and then there was an email sent out ... it was kind of sprung on us out of the blue. And so the next day, the kids were required -- in the middle of August -- to wear masks. We’re feeling like it’s a little early to be mandating masks or requiring masks. The numbers are low, the hospitalizations are low, the death rates are low, and we just felt like it was a little bit too much.”

Fiddler said she would have been out protesting sooner had she known this mandate was coming.

“We want to be able to send our kids to school without masks, parental choice, freedom to choose what we want to do.”

To date, District 12 is the only Colorado Springs school district to require masks indoors. Students and faculty in Manitou Springs District 14 also have to wear masks as part of the town’s ordinance for all city buildings.

Some parents and students have told 11 News they welcome the mask requirement.

“COVID with the delta variant is on the rise, and my major goal for this year is to keep kids in school,” mother Betsy Kleiner said last week after the mandate passed. “This was a really hard decision for D-12 to do and we know that it’s unpopular with many parents. ... Really, the goal is how can we best make sure that we keep kids in person school for the year. And this was the decision they made and I think that’s the best decision in order to facilitate that goal.”

“I think it’s very important to wear a mask in order to stay safe and stay in school,” added Ben, a D-12 student.

Along with D-12 parents, Fiddler said some of Wednesday’s protesters were from District 49.

“The rest of the county is not mandating masks [in school] from what I’m aware of. So they’re here to kind of support us, because that’s where we want to be. We want to be able to send kids to school without masks.”

The group says they’ll be back out at the junior high Thursday morning.

The district has said they reached the decision to require masks in buildings after lengthy discussions with local medical experts, as well as weighing the impact on students/staff wearing facial coverings versus going without.

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