Dallas parents with children in Catholic schools are giving the Dallas diocese a piece of their mind about the school mask mandate, using a medium that is sure to catch the bishop’s eye — billboard trucks.
Three dads rented billboard trucks with messages splashed across the side protesting the Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools mask mandate for students.
“Let Masks Be Optional And Let Parents Choose,” reads one of the billboard signs, along with a photo depicting schoolchildren wearing face masks.
“Less Than 1% Of Kids At Dallas Diocese Schools Have Had Covid. Why Mandate Masks?” reads another.
“No Logic,” blares another sign. “Your Kids Must Wear Masks At School But Not At Sunday Mass.”
Other billboard messages read, “Join Us In Protecting Our Children’s Rights!” and “Long Term Consequences Unknown.”
One message features a graph of declining COVID hospitalizations, and one claims children have worn masks at school for a grand total of 357 hours this year.
Parents hired billboard trucks to drive outside the Dallas diocese offices this week. After months of frustration, they're giving the bishop a piece of their mind on the school mask mandate.
Story TC! pic.twitter.com/wI1clzew3q
— Mairead Elordi (@JohnsonHildy) October 26, 2021
The trucks were sent to drive near the Dallas Diocese offices as well as St. Monica Catholic School on Monday and Christ the King Catholic School on Tuesday morning, one of the dads told The Daily Wire.
The flashy move comes after months of frustration among parents and the stonewalling of their concerns by the diocese.
Many parents were left feeling blindsided on August 9 when they received a surprise email from the Dallas diocese informing them that face masks would be required for all students at diocesan schools the next day, on the first day of school.
The letter cited the “clear and present danger for unvaccinated children” from the Delta variant of COVID-19 as well as rising virus cases in Texas. The Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools enrolls about 15,000 students at 31 schools.
Outraged parents immediately complained, calling and emailing the offices of Dallas Bishop Edward Burns and Superintendent Matthew Vereecke repeatedly before one dad finally got a response.
“It’s clear that we are not going to come to agreement on this,” Vereecke wrote in an August 12 email to Greg Morris, who has three children in diocese schools. “We understand that you disagree with the situation and the logic, and it doesn’t appear that further communication will be productive.”
Hundreds of like-minded parents organized into a group, which they dubbed Parents of Dallas Diocese Schools (DDS), to try to at least extract an explanation from the diocese regarding the mask mandate. A petition against the mandate garnered nearly 1,500 signatures. The three dads even researched COVID numbers and crafted their own mask policy proposal and submitted it to the diocese, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, parents held several protests against the mask mandate. It was at one of these protests that a demonstrator held a sign calling on the bishop to stop the “child abuse” and raised the hackles of the diocese. At that point, the diocese switched gears and began threatening to expel the children of the three dads, they said, despite them having no connection to the sign. All three fathers were called in to meet with leadership at their children’s respective schools and warned that the diocese was considering expelling their kids if they did not back down on their opposition to the mask mandate, they said.
Asked whether parents who opposed the mask mandate were threatened with expulsion, the diocese responded that some parents took actions that were “disruptive.”
“In a few instances, parents have gone beyond expressing their concerns to actions that are disruptive to the administration of our schools. This violates the agreement parents sign when they enroll their students in diocesan private schools,” the diocese said in a statement to The Daily Wire.
The diocese also claimed it had offered a refund to families who were unwilling or unable to comply with a mask mandate. However, several parents said they had heard nothing about a refund.
The diocese’s mask mandate applies to all elementary and middle school students with no exemptions. Earlier this month, the diocese announced that it was relaxing masking rules for high school students.
One of the most infuriating aspects of the mandate for parents is that the diocese does not allow any medical mask exemptions, even for children suffering from breathing issues or headaches, and even for a three-year-old who is struggling with speech issues.
Parents have been “frustrated as to the lack of response and transparency” from the diocese, a spokesperson for Parents of DDS organization told The Daily Wire, adding that “everyone has simply had enough.”
“Per the latest numbers, there has been a dramatic drop in COVID related hospitalizations and deaths in our area (at every age group) and the mask mandate from the Diocese is simply inappropriate and uncalled for at this stage,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to be an advocate for our children’s health and will continue to demand transparency and data based decision making from the Dallas Diocese.”