A handful of Southridge High School students speak out against KSD mask requirements

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A segment of students and parents in the Kennewick School District are making their opinion heard: They do not want to wear masks in classrooms anymore.

Various students showed up at Southridge High School without their masks on Tuesday in a demonstration against the district’s COVID-19 guidelines for all Kennewick schools.

“We’re tired of it. We don’t want to wear a mask all day,” Brock, a junior at Southridge High said.

Others expressed their concerns about the way this mask mandate is enforced, telling KAPP KVEW’s Neil Fischer that most students wear their masks below their chins anyway.

REPORT: 98% of Kennewick school staff are vaccinated or exempt

“Everyone is wearing their masks down below the chin. I’d say at least 50% wearing it below the chin below the mouth,” Brock said.

The Kennewick School District’s COVID-19 Safety Policy states the following in regards to mask requirements:

All school district staff, volunteers, visitors and students must wear a cloth face covering or an acceptable alternative while inside school buildings. (A cloth face covering is anything that completely covers the mouth and nose and fits securely on the sides of the face and under the chin. It should be made of two or more layers of tightly woven fabric with ties or straps that go around a person’s head or behind their ears. An acceptable alternative includes a surgical mask or clear face shield with a drape.)

READ: Benton County distributes free KN-90 masks as cases rise

For some students, the lack of accountability for some unmasked students has shaped their opinion on the school district’s policies.

“I see so many students in my classes doing the same thing I’m doing, but they’re not getting called out or anything,” said a Southridge sophomore named Asha.

A handful of students were sent home with an excused absence on Friday for showing up to school without a mask. The conversation was exacerbated on Monday when a TikTok video of a teacher escorting an unmasked student to a school administrator went viral on TikTok.

Up to this point, the video has over 150,000 views.

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“I’m going to stand up for what I believe in no matter what,” Brock said. “My parents have my back, all my friends have my back, and I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Southridge students and parents are planning to speak at an upcoming school board meeting in an attempt to get rid of the mask rules. They encourage other students who feel similarly to join their side.

“I think masks should be optional,” a junior named Danika said. “Not everybody has the same health history and I don’t see why it should be required.”

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