A small group of concerned parents protested the mask mandate at Tuesday’s Bell County School Board meeting.
The group’s organizer Will Allen, who’s daughter attends school in the county, spoke to the board during the meeting. He was disappointed that only around ten people showed up to protest against their children being force to wear masks.
“The bottom line is that the government can come in and tell your kids anything they want. Look at how many is standing up for them — nobody. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I talked to 250 people or more and every single one of them said they could not believe that they had to put masks on. Look how many is here — That’s amazing. All I can say is ‘Welcome to communism. Welcome to the socialist world.’”
Allen said when he first started to organize the protest, he thought the mask rules were put in place by the school board. After speaking with board members and superintendent Tom Gambrel, he realized they were simply following the mandate put forward by Gov. Andy Beshear and then approved by the Kentucky Board of Education.
Local school boards that don’t follow the mandate, risk losing their insurance for students and employees and can also face fines and even removal from office.
“I was going to say something but to be honest with you I can see that I would be preaching to the choir,” Allen told the board. “I know that you guys are just slaves to the governor.
“I know you guys are for us because you said go back to school the first day without a mask. But guess what, King Andy said no,” he continued. “I don’t have a voice, so what are we to do? I’m going to go get a medical excuse for my daughter but I’m not standing up for nobody else in this county because they don’t want to stand for themselves. My daughter can get a medical excuse, no problem. But a lot of kids don’t have that, and as a matter of fact they don’t have parents to stand up for them.”
Allen later said he would never make his child wear a mask.
“You look back in history and during slavery times they covered their face to get rid of their will to live. I hate it. I hate it for the children of this county. It’s unreal. . .I’m going to take care of my daughter and I was going to help take care of everybody else’s too. I’m sorry guys. Look around and see how many people is helping you. There’s no help,” he said.
Allen also told the board that wasn’t there to be against them at all.
“I want to help you if I can, because I’ll stand up to the governor. There’s something wrong with our country and we’re losing it.,” he said.
Board chairman Eulene Brock thanked Allen for coming to speak to the board.
“I’m proud of you for standing up for your child but our hands are tied. I would stand for my child just like you do,” she said. “I appreciate you coming tonight.”
“We understand 100-percent,” Superintendent Gambrel said.
“If we did not do this and we all got kicked off this board then the governor is going to appoint the people to replace us. Who do you think they’re going to be for? You know that we’re for you kids anyway,” board member Doug Ramsey said.
“For him to have that much power to be able to do that, there’s something wrong with the system and it’s broken,” Allen said. “And as far as I’m concerned the mentality of parents is broken.”
The board also approved a waiver to make virtual school available for students in Kintergarten through fourth grade. A virtual option was already in place for students in grades five through 12, but the K-4 was being added to accommodate children whose parents would rather keep them at home after the mandatory masks were annojnced.
Gambrel said the school would do everything they could to keep in-person classes this school year.
“We’re going to try our very best to stay in person. There is just no substitute for in-person learning,” he sai. “Our people probably worked as hard or harder as they ever had but there is no way that we can replace a classroom teacher.”