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Some parents claim religious exemption so kids don’t have to wear masks at school


The Oconomowoc School District is suddenly getting dozens of parent requests for an exemption to the district’s mask policy, claiming masks violate their religious beliefs. Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus in WisconsinIt comes after the school board voted to keep an indoor mask requirement for the rest of the school year.The school board Tuesday told parents that based on legal advice, they’re going to let anyone who says they have a religious reason get an exemption to the policy requiring masks indoors. “My family does not live in fear and neither do the other unmasked parents here tonight and those watching virtually. We are not sheep and will not be just blindly told what to do,” parent Melissa Kissinger said.At Tuesday’s school board meeting, parents sounded off on a decision to continue a mask requirement indoors for the rest of the school year.”Many have already had the COVID and recovered, and if that all is not good enough, you still have this fashion mask you can wear and live your life behind if that’s what you prefer to do,” parent Gregory DeMark said After the vote to ban masks failed, one board member made a point to let parents know how they could avoid the mask mandate.”There is a religious and medical exemption that you can fill out for your child to remove the mask off their face,” Oconomowoc School Board member Jessica Karnowski said.Since then, the district has received more than 100 forms in the past two days with people simply writing religious objection, and the mask requirement is waived.”They should be off now,” parent Tiffany Hawley said.Most parents agree with the religious exemption, which could be described as a loophole.”People who choose not to, parents need to be given the choice to control what their kid does. It’s not the school’s choice. It’s the parents’ choice,” Hawley said.”It should be in the hands of parents, and I don’t think children should have to wear masks. I think it is detrimental to their emotions, to their health,” parent Abby Barrett said. Oconomowoc schools have been in-person all school year. The district said there were a handful of exemptions for medical reasons at the beginning of the school year, but these religious objections are new.Sign up for coronavirus email alerts from WISNGet breaking news alerts with the WISN 12 app.Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

The Oconomowoc School District is suddenly getting dozens of parent requests for an exemption to the district’s mask policy, claiming masks violate their religious beliefs.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus in Wisconsin

It comes after the school board voted to keep an indoor mask requirement for the rest of the school year.

The school board Tuesday told parents that based on legal advice, they’re going to let anyone who says they have a religious reason get an exemption to the policy requiring masks indoors.

“My family does not live in fear and neither do the other unmasked parents here tonight and those watching virtually. We are not sheep and will not be just blindly told what to do,” parent Melissa Kissinger said.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, parents sounded off on a decision to continue a mask requirement indoors for the rest of the school year.

“Many have already had the COVID and recovered, and if that all is not good enough, you still have this fashion mask you can wear and live your life behind if that’s what you prefer to do,” parent Gregory DeMark said

After the vote to ban masks failed, one board member made a point to let parents know how they could avoid the mask mandate.

“There is a religious and medical exemption that you can fill out for your child to remove the mask off their face,” Oconomowoc School Board member Jessica Karnowski said.

Since then, the district has received more than 100 forms in the past two days with people simply writing religious objection, and the mask requirement is waived.

“They should be off now,” parent Tiffany Hawley said.

Most parents agree with the religious exemption, which could be described as a loophole.

“People who choose not to, parents need to be given the choice to control what their kid does. It’s not the school’s choice. It’s the parents’ choice,” Hawley said.

“It should be in the hands of parents, and I don’t think children should have to wear masks. I think it is detrimental to their emotions, to their health,” parent Abby Barrett said.

Oconomowoc schools have been in-person all school year.

The district said there were a handful of exemptions for medical reasons at the beginning of the school year, but these religious objections are new.

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