Students with masks

ST. MARYS — Members of the “Elk County Parents That Support Choices” Facebook group are planning a peaceful protest prior to the next St. Marys Area School District’s board of administrators meeting Monday, Sept. 13.

Cassandra Hanes and Kristen Frantz, administrators of the Facebook group, are mothers of students in SMASD schools. The group was originally St. Marys-based and was opened up to Elk County as a whole. The “Elk County Parents That Support Choices” group has gained 559 members as of Thursday, according to the page.

There are other groups as well, including the “Unmask Pennsylvania Students” Facebook group with nearly 60,000 members.

What initially prompted the page’s creation, the women said, was the governor’s statewide mask mandate that took effect earlier this week.

Personally, one of her children suffers from headaches from wearing a mask, and the other, severe anxiety, Hanes said.

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The women stressed that it is not just necessarily about the masks –but allowing parents the choice when it comes to their child’s wellbeing.

Parents would like the school board to allow them to sign an exemption form for the masks, without needing a physician’s signature, said Hanes, especially being that COVID-19 cases in Elk County have been consistently low.

The women stressed that they completely understand this is a statewide mandate, and the schools are just trying to do their best with what they have been handed. The parents are trying to do what they feel is best for their children as well.

Anyone wishing to participate in the peaceful protest is asked to be at St. Marys Area High School no later than 6 p.m. Monday. Any non-peaceful behavior will not be tolerated.

For more information, visit the “Elk County Parents That Support Choices” group.

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