The case against masks: Utahns react to Salt Lake County decision to overturn mask mandate in schools

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Parents who don’t want their children to wear a mask say it’s all about protecting parental rights, and Thursday’s 6-3 vote by Salt Lake County Council sets a precedent for the rest of the state.

“The mask mandate is not a thing for children K-6,” says Monica Wilbur with the Academic Integrity Movement.

Wilbur and hundreds of parents are just ecstatic about the vote, singing and cheering through the chamber hallways.

All because of a vote down party lines.

“Ok that passes 6-3,” says Salt Lake County Council Chair Steve DeBry during the meeting.

One mother believes this is the blueprint for parents who want to protect parental choice.

“Every parent in the state of Utah can look to this as a precedent that we have a God-given right to parent our children and make those decisions for them,” says Corinne Johnson with Utah Parents United. “It’s about choice. We support parents who want to have kids wear masks, they should have that right. I don’t want my kids to wear masks, and I should have that right. And, that was what was done today.”

Republican Council Member Amie Winder Newton agrees, adding, “I’m not going to put the burden of the community healthcare system on the backs of little children who have very low COVID risk. I morally cannot do it.”

Sandy City mother of three, Megen Despain, understands that point of view and hopes bullying doesn’t get in the way of children learning because of the County Council’s decision. 

“If the parents decide that their kids need to wear masks, then the other kids that are not wearing masks shouldn’t make fun of the other kids for wearing masks,” she says. ” I get it that there is that personal decision with the parents. I wish that a piece of fabric shouldn’t be so controversial.”

Other parents say they’re worried about sending their kids back to school without a mask requirement in place.

“I feel terrified to send my kids to school this week, we are struggling with that decision,” mother Jenny Nazzaro tells ABC4.

Salt Lake County Council Members admitted the Delta strain of COVID-19 is problematic and could cause more children to go into the hospital, but the majority of members don’t believe the science is there at this point and time.

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