WRENTHAM -- When the local high school can ease its mask mandate because more than 80 percent of students and faculty have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, it should be good news.
But not for everyone.
A group of King Philip Regional High School parents who say their unvaccinated children are being singled out for refusing to wear masks in class stood in protest against the school's policies outside the school entrance Wednesday morning.
Julie Barrett says her children -- a sophomore and a junior at the regional school -- have natural immunity after contracting COVID-19. But, she says, the school administration is only concerned with vaccination rates.
“Many of the parents I associate with have been called out,” Barrett, 51, a Wrentham resident, said Tuesday. “And were told if they don’t comply with the mask mandate (their children) will be sent home.”
She called the rules “punitive, bullying behavior. It’s tyrannical.”
She said getting vaccinated is “a personal choice” and that her children have had other vaccinations, but Barrett called COVID vaccines “experimental” and masks ineffective.
She and several other parents gathered at routes 1A and 140 Wednesday with signs and walked to the entrance of the King Philip High campus to protest what they claim are unfair policies.
On Friday, Superintendent Paul Zinni announced that as of Nov. 8 “our high school has reached 80% of staff and students fully vaccinated. As such, we made the decision to move forward with the exemption process and filed for a mask exemption waiver at King Philip Regional High School, which was approved by the state today.”
As of Monday, he said, KP would dispense with the state education department’s mask requirements for all vaccinated individuals at our high school.
However, he added, “In accordance with state guidelines, the mask exemption will only apply to students and staff who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated students or staff, visitors, volunteers or vendors to King Philip Regional High School will continue to be required to wear a mask while indoors.”
Barrett called the policy “segregation of our children based on mask status.”
In an email response to a question from The Sun Chronicle Tuesday, Zinni wrote, “We are continuing to act in the best interests of students and staff by following state guidelines around vaccinations and masks.
An email to Samed Khan, chairman of the King Philip School Committee, was not answered Tuesday night.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.”
The CDC also recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.