South Florida Sun Sentinel | by Scott Travis | May 18, 2021
They shouted chants of “Unmask the children” while holding signs equating masks in schools to child abuse and slavery.
More than 60 people packed outside the K.C. Wright headquarters in Fort Lauderdale before Tuesday’s School Board meeting to question why the Broward School District requires masks to be worn by everyone in schools, including children.
Many were affiliated with a conservative group called “Florida First,” which has protested mask requirements at school districts throughout Florida. A similar protest is planned in Miami-Dade Wednesday.
“You have teachers that are literally scared of their kids, that they’re going to infect them with their germs,” activist Chris Nelson of Fort Lauderdale told the crowd through a megaphone. “If you’re afraid of children, you shouldn’t be a teacher.”
Nelson, who has attended other mask protests, said it’s cruel to make kids wear masks.
“The kids, they never had a choice,’” said Nelson. “We can go into a store. They ask us to wear a mask, we can say, ‘No I have a medical condition. I have common sense and an immune system.’”
Nelson wore a black shirt saying, “Masks are slavery.”
One parent held a sign using “MASK” as an acronym for “Mothers Against Suffocating Kids.” Other signs said, “Masks are child abuse,” “Don’t suffocate our children” and “Your Fear doesn’t take away my freedom.”
Tiffany Muzante of Fort Lauderdale said her 8-year-old son attends a school with many special needs students who struggle to obey the mask rules.
“He hears every day these teachers belittling children. ‘Pull your mask up!’” she said. “He said, ‘Mommy, I almost cried the other days. They’re’ really mean to these kids, all over a mask.”
The neighboring Palm Beach County School District announced last week that masks would be optional starting this fall. So far, Broward hasn’t announced any changes to its mask rules.
“The District will evaluate the new [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and continue to work closely with federal and local health experts for guidance on current and future school safety protocols,” said a statement from the office of Chief Communications Officer Kathy Koch. “The health and safety of our students and staff are our District’s highest priorities.”