Mask protests hit Neuqua Valley


Sachin Fong

Parents and students stood outside Neuqua Valley on a cold, wet morning to protest the district’s mask mandate.

This past Friday morning, Feb. 11, 2022, the recent mask controversies and rulings hit Neuqua Valley. After the Sangamon County court ruled against Illinois’ mask mandate for over 700 families, the past week has been an active one, to say the least. The Feb. 7, 2022 Indian Prairie School District (IPSD) 204 school board meeting was sent into recess and eventually canceled after attendees of the meeting did not comply with the mask mandate of the board. The attendees were yelling and interrupting the board members in protest of the mask mandate, using the recent court ruling as backing for their argument. Over 70 students were removed from school at Naperville Central in an anti-mask walk in protest. These recent anti-mask rumblings around town have arrived to Neuqua Valley, with a group of 20-30 students and parents protesting outside Circle Drive holding various anti-mask signs reading “unmask our kids” and “The time is now. Do the right thing. Follow the law. Mask Choice.”

“It’s been argued in the courts, we won, let these kids have the option to go in maskless if they want, and if they don’t that’s their prerogative too” said frustrated 204 parent George Romita. In the future, he hoped that the district will “make accommodations for our kids that don’t want to wear masks, or give the entire student body the option.”
Groups of students engaged with the anti-mask crowd and some held counter protest signs reading “we love masks.” Cars honked as they drove by and many students came by to see the protest.

“People are welcome to express their opinions and I think it’s very important we provide a forum for that,” shared Neuqua Valley principal Dr. Lance Fuhrer when talking about the protests. “Most of our students probably don’t want to rock the boat and just go to school… because that’s what people want to do, go to school.”

In wake of these recent anti mask events, the district announced on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2022 that the district would be going mask optional starting Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. This step towards “normalcy” after 23 months of mask mandates will certainly face differing opinions, but the district asks that students and faculty respect and acknowledge the contrasting viewpoints of all their peers.