Students have begun to protest against mask mandates, and one group in an Illinois high school has received some national attention for their position. The group is Voices Unmasked and they are associated with a suburban high school outside of Chicago that has long imposed a severe masking policy.
Today, a group of us from Vernon Hills HS in District 128 arrived at school without masks protesting the mandate. Here is our statement on the event. We encourage students from other districts to stand with us. Thank you to our parents for your support. #UnmaskOurStudents #D128 pic.twitter.com/jWSd8ysO2K— Student Voices Unmasked (@VoicesUnmasked) February 7, 2022
Here is their complete letter issued prior to a full walkout.
Today, many students from District 128 Vernon Hills High School and Libertyville High School arrived at school unmasked as a sign of our desire for freedom from the mask mandate.
We want to start by saying that we appreciate our rights as citizens of the United States and the right to protest. Our freedoms are not lost on us. That said, it is time for us to make a stand.
At Vernon Hills High School today, we were escorted to a gymnasium where our principal, Dr. Guillaume addressed us, explained the District’s position, and patiently and respectfully fielded our questions. We sincerely appreciate the way he handled this and took the time to have a dialogue with us. Both sides were respectful.
We were presented with several options. We could put on a mask and attend class. If we chose to remain maskless, we could either stay in the gym all day or be removed from school for the day as a mental health day.
We respect the District’s position. But we also disagree with it. Most of us in this group have spent most of our high school lives behind these masks. For the younger students, their entire high school experience has been covered in masks. We believe it is time for this to end.
We want to be free of these masks. We want to see each other’s faces. We want to bring back a sense of normalcy and enjoy what is left of our high school years. We believe that if this were truly about our health, they would also be considering our mental health.
But we question whether this is truly about health anymore. If not, what is it about? Many of us are vaccinated. Many of us have even had Covid-19 and have not only survived but enjoy the natural immunity it provides.
For our fellow students who are still concerned, we encourage them to continue to wear masks to protect themselves. But for those of us who choose not to, we desire the freedom of that choice. Many school districts around us have recently changed their position and made masks optional. Ours has not. We implore our District leaders, our School Board that we elected, and our administrators to reconsider this position as soon as possible.
As high school students, many of us are soon graduating and going on to hopefully be the leaders of tomorrow. We also know that as this mask mandate continues, time is running out on our high school experiences. We realize throughout our lives, there will be many situations where we will be forced to make decisions. To take a stand. We believe that time is now. We encourage you to stand with us. #UnmaskOurStudents #D128