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High School Students Protested School’s Stringent Mask Policy. Now They Face Truancy, Fines

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Students will use any excuse in the book to get out of class under the guise of “protesting,” and usually, school administrators let them get away with it. It turns out, however, that students can only get away with protesting school-approved subjects — and a school’s stringent and unnecessary mask policy isn’t one of them.

The Federalist reported that “Dozens of students in Wisconsin’s Tomahawk School District are looking at truancy citations after walking out of classes last week in a protest against the school system’s stringent mask policy.” Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins told Empower Wisconsin that the students who protested will be cited and face a fine of nearly $100 each.

As The Federalist reported:

The demonstrations began on May 3, with several students who demanded the district end its mandatory mask policy on school property. On May 5, approximately 50 students walked out after they were dissatisfied with what sources say was a fruitless meeting with the administration.

Ryan Hawley’s high school son walked out the first day of the protests, which was billed as a “No Mask Monday.” The small group of students was met by the school resource officer who told them to put their masks on and go back to class. All but two complied.

“They were told, ‘Either you can put your mask on or go home.’ One of them was my son. He was sent home at 8:30 a.m.,” Hawley said. Like several other parents in the district, Hawley stood behind his children’s cause.

On May 4, more students joined and about half a dozen were sent home, according to parents. Hawley said that Tomahawk administrations have refused to budge on the mask policy or even listen to opponents.

On May 5, high school students were given 20 minutes to state their case against the mask policies, but as soon as the meeting was over, they were told to put their masks back on and return to class.

“The whole point of the meeting was so we could show our input and our opinions and they completely threw that away and made us put masks on right after the meeting,” Ryan Hawley’s son, John, told WJFW-TV. The student’s sister, who also goes to Tomahawk High, and his middle school brother also joined the demonstration.

Parents said their children were threatened by school officials with arrest or having social services get involved.

“The high school charged all the kids with truancy even though parents had called in to excuse their children’s absences,” Ryan Hawley said. “They were just being difficult and wanted to make an example out of the kids standing up for their First Amendment rights.”

The protests continued, with dwindling numbers, on May 6 and 7, but they stopped when the Tomahawk School Board said it would discuss the policy at their May 11 agenda meeting. Students and residents spoke out against the mask policy, but technical issues caused their points to be diminished.

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