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Residents’ concerns about mask mandate spur special meeting of Sabine Parish School Board

More than 50 people gathered outside the meeting room, which has a capacity of 30
People gather ahead of a special meeting Aug. 9, 2021, called by the Sabine Parish School Board...
People gather ahead of a special meeting Aug. 9, 2021, called by the Sabine Parish School Board to hear their concerns about the School District's mask mandate.(Source: Chandler Watkins/KSLA News 12)
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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MANY, La. (KSLA) — The mask mandate for schools in Sabine Parish has raised some questions and concerns.

So the Sabine Parish School Board held a special meeting in Many the evening of Monday, Aug. 9 to allow more people to be heard. More than 50 people showed up for the gathering. The meeting room has a maximum capacity of 30, forcing the crowd to spill outside the meeting in Many.

The School Board has since scheduled another special meeting to hear more parents’ concerns at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26 at at Many High School in Many. Board members will discuss the Ready to Achieve Health and Safety Operational Plan. Parents interested in addressing the board must complete a card upon entry. The agenda will be posted to the district’s website online here.

On Monday, a representative of Unmask Our Kids Sabine Parish, a grassroots group that reportedly has more than 950 members, was outside distributing face mask exemption forms to parents who have “philosophical or religious” objections to Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which will remain in effect at least until Sept. 1.

Sabine Parish schools Superintendent Dr. Sarah Ebarb explained that School Board members’ hands are tied.

“It wasn’t my wish or hope that we would have to wear masks, but it’s mandated, so we will have to follow that mandate,” she explained. “This is a statewide mask mandate. It’s an order signed by the governor. As long as that order is in place, it is law and we have to follow it.”

With the rise in COVID-19 numbers, Dr. Ebarb says they will follow the guidelines if it means keeping the kids safe and in school.

Meanwhile, parents who oppose the mask mandate say they’re considering pulling their kids out of the public school system.

“We will pay for private school, or people around here can get together and we can start our own school,” Brenton Riggs said.

“There are alternatives,” Caleb Schoth noted. “St. Mary’s is a private school and I do not mind sending my kids there.”

“I think they do need to hear that though. For me and my family, I will not be letting them wear masks in school,” said another parent.

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