ROCHESTER, Minn. - A meeting of the Rochester Public School Board got off to a passionate start Tuesday, with a number of community members speaking out during a public comment period.
Many in attendance shared their views on Critical Race Theory, most voicing opposition to it. Others expressed concern about the district's face covering policy, a topic scheduled for discussion during the meeting.
One of those who took to the podium was RPS Parent Rachael Horsman, who worries her children will be forced to continue masking because they have not been vaccinated. Of particular concern is her 6-year-old son Tristan, who Horsman says has learning disabilities, and masking has made it harder for him to reach his full academic potential.
"They are still requiring for him to wear a mask as he is in the building, 6-to-8 hours a day during summer school." Horsman continued, "enough is enough, I'm done with mask up for children. We need to just move on from the COVID restrictions. We need to let the kids breathe freely."
In her comments, Horsman shared a recent experience with board members, saying, "yesterday when I dropped my son off for summer school, they refused to allow my son into the building, refused to educate him, refused to accommodate him, and refused to acknowledge his disabilities. At the request of the staff the police came and threatened me with arrest if I did not leave. All because he was not deemed safe to be around other children unless he was covering his respiratory system."
Later in the evening, the school board directed Interim Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel to develop language changes to the district's face covering policy in order to better reflect updated masking guidance from the CDC and other leading health experts. The recommended changes will be presented to the school board during its July 27th meeting.