A large sign is displayed across the street from Arcohe Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 8 as part of a demonstration to protest students being required to wear masks in the classrooms.

Small groups of parents gathered at several area schools Monday morning, Nov. 8 to express their frustrations over students being required to wear face coverings in classrooms. The requirement is a state mandate, not set by local school officials.

The parents organized through social media over the last several weeks. As part of what the group called a “peaceful demonstration”, the group decided to send their students to school Monday without masks. If those students were asked to put on a mask, parents said those students should then say “no”.

After hearing of the upcoming demonstration, local superintendents reached out to parents to let them know that if their students refused to wear masks, parents would be called to pick up their students. If students were not picked up, students without masks would not be allowed in classrooms; however, an “alternate” location would house those students.

True to both sides’ word, students arrived at school without masks and did not wear one when asked and were not allowed in classrooms.

Arcohe Elementary School had the most students participate in the demonstration; however, according to Superintendent/Principal Troy Miller, less than 50 students participated.

“We tried our best to keep the day as normal as we could and focus on teaching the students,” Miller said. “In an attempt to keep students at school, we offered an alternate educational setting for those who chose not to wear a mask in protest. To allow our teachers to focus on their classrooms, the administration led the students and gave them in-class assignments provided by their teachers as well as a chance to voice their opinions to the government leaders in position to make a change to the mandate. We encouraged students to write letters to the Governor and other California leaders to let them know their personal stories about what they are being asked to do. We continue to love and support our students and do not want the current global situation to ruin what is great about Arcohe.”

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District Superintendent Lois Yount said that, district-wide, 53 students initially refused to wear a mask when they arrived at their classroom. After phone calls were made to the parents, 37 students were provided an alternative learning environment for the day.

Galt Joint Union High School District Superintendent Lisa Pettis said that 28 students initially refused to wear a mask. After parents were called, some students went back to class with a mask, some students were picked up by a parent and those left were sent to the library to work. Supervision was provided by an employee who is credentialed as a substitute teacher, according to Pettis.