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Bolivar High School students walk out of class over masking requirements

Bolivar High School students protest mask requirement.
Bolivar High School students protest mask requirement.(KY3)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 11:16 AM CDT
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BOLIVAR, Mo. (KY3) - Around a dozen Bolivar High School students walked out of class at 9 a.m. And they stayed outside in protest over the district’s masking requirements.

The students say they want the district to end the masking requirements. Springfield Attorney Kristi Fulnecky represents the parents of the Bolivar students.

One student, Amy Triplett, said they weren’t sure how teachers would react if they walked out.

“I was really confident about it,” said Triplett. “But then I was like, really nervous because I didn’t know how it was going to act out. I wasn’t sure if the teachers were going to force us to go back to our classrooms or force us to put on that mask.”

Superintendent of Bolivar Schools, Richard Asbill, said he just wants the students to be safe and learn.

“We’re excited about our students having a voice. This is an issue that people are divided on but at the same time our focus has been making sure that students have the opportunity to be in school and if we can avoid quarantine, that means more students in-person learning.”

Triplett also said the requirement is becoming too much.

“We don’t want to wear a mask,” said Triplett. “It’s becoming more of a thing than what it needs to become.”

Triplett’s mother, Deanna Triplett, said she was there to support her daughter.

“That’s what you are supposed to do with your children, you’re supposed to stand behind them,” said Triplett. “You’re supposed to support them. Be there when they need you and now the kids really need everybody because they’re scared.”

Springfield attorney Kristi Fulnecky, who filed an amended lawsuit last month against Springfield Public Schools to fully reopen, is representing these parents against the masking policy. Fulnecky said parents should choose what is right for their kids.

“The parents want to choose their health and what they do for their children,” said Fulnecky. “They want to make the health decisions for their children and not have the school or the government tell them what to do.”

Superintendent Asbill said he believes the board may change the masking requirements at the next board meeting based on lower case numbers and vaccination rates.

Bolivar School administrators said the students would not face disciplinary actions as long as they didn’t cause a disturbance to the learning of other students.

Read statement from Bolivar School District:

The Bolivar R-1 School District is aware that parents and a local attorney gathered today to protest the District mask requirement. While we appreciate the exchange of ideas and views, it is important our educational efforts are not interrupted by protest or marketing efforts.

Bolivar R-1 Schools has continued to monitor and follow guidance and information presented from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), local health officials, and our local building level data. Based on that information and data the Bolivar R-1 School District approved and implemented a mask requirement K-12 for students and staff; with certain exemptions for special education students, on August 9, 2021.

This decision was made based on providing our staff, students, and families access to “Modified Quarantine” options. Providing staff, students, and families options to avoid quarantine and continue in-person learning.

The Bolivar R-1 Schools Board of Education (BoE) has reviewed parent and patron opinions regarding the masking requirement but continues to focus on the building level data, county data and trends, and options provided by DESE and DHSS. The BoE is focused on providing in-person learning and partnering with parents to limit interruptions to our mutual learning goals for all of our students.

Since the mask requirement was approved, the BoE has monitored weekly the building level data, County data, regional data, and State data and trends. Currently, the Bolivar R-1 School District’s data trends are very good and representative of local, county, regional, and state trends; these are positive and important data indicators. Based on that information, the BoE has been evaluating a “mask recommended” option for Bolivar R-1 Schools. In addition, DESE and DHSS have now approved and provided school districts a “test to stay” option that provides another pathway for staff, students, and families to maintain in-person learning and avoid quarantine.

While the District respects the diverse opinions of our patrons, the BoE continues to make decisions based on data, information, and recommendations provided by DESE and DHSS. While voices, for or against, are important to the discussion and review process, decisions for the staff and students must be made based on facts that provide for the safest school experience possible. The BoE has received recommendations from the administration regarding a “mask recommended” option and will review those recommendations based on the data and information provided by DESE and DHSS.

Dr. Richard Asbill

Superintendent, Bolivar Schools

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