A group of concerned citizens attended Franklin Parish School Board’s regular meeting to voice their opinion of Gov. John Bel Edward’s mask mandate, Oct. 5.
Leading the way was Cindy Gray speaking on the negative effects of wearing masks. Gray was put on the School Board October’s agenda after she was denied speaking time during September’s meeting.
“My concerns tonight are two fold,” Gray said. “One is parental consistent and questioning the legality of medical mandates. Number two is mask injuries and reports of the lack of the Franklin Parish School Board to acknowledge the exemptions from parents and medical provider.”
Each school has a medical exemption form in which parents must take to their health care provider to fill out, according to Troy Bell, director of child welfare and attendance. The school district nurse has guidelines she follows. If the student meets the guidelines, the student goes virtual until the mask mandate is lifted.
“The medical exemption form is for the cloth mask,” said Jon Guice, the School Board’s legal council. “The state department said that exemption does not mean just go in without any covering. The exemption will allow you to wear the shield and the cloth. Otherwise, virtual will be the only other option. That is not my opinion, but the state is giving us as a mandate.”
When asked by audience members who wrote the form, Guice answered, “I’m sure someone in our firm reviewed the language the School Board received.”
According to Gray, there is no long term data about the effects of wearing masks while indoors.
Additionally, Gray cited several articles detailing masks that were contaminated with pathogens. Masks were worn by Gainesville, Florida children and sent to University of Florida for analysis in the article.
Analysis found five masks were contaminated with bacteria, parasites and fungi, including three with dangerous pathogenic and pneumonia-causing bacteria, according to RationalGround.com.
“That’s a bombshell to me when I read that,” Gray said. “I think about children wearing a mask over and over again. Most of these are dangerous bacteria that lead to multiple illnesses. We’re protectors of the children. Why haven’t more studies like this been done?”
Gray stressed the need for more data to be done on the longterm and short-term effects of masks before mask mandates are enacted.
Along with physical effects, Gray spoke about mental effects on children.
Quoting Dr. Mark McDonald, Gray said, “The trauma (of mask wearing) has made them 50 percent victims and 50 percent oppressors.”
McDonald is a clinical psychologist and medical-legal expert from West Los Angeles.
Also, Gray cautioned School Board members about civil right suits from mask injuries and told them they had a choice.
“You say we don’t have choice, but I beg to differ,” Gray said. “We do have a choice. Everyone of you have a choice. We are sovereign citizens of the United States of America. God bless it.”
School Board President Richard Kelly commended Gray’s speech and thanked her for the information.
“Your presentation should be on floor of the legislature in Baton Rouge,” Kelly said. “I think everybody is concerned. Nobody in this building is unconcerned, but the School Board is between a rock and a hard place.”
Guice, who spoke before Gray, told meeting attendees School Board members were obligated to obey Edwards’ mandates. The lawyer from Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, Guice, Noah & Perkins, LLP spoke on mask mandate’s legal aspects.
“We are all tired of COVID, and I hate those masks,” Guice said. “If I had a choice I would burn them. The reality is, you and I are not asked what science is appropriate. In fact you can’t because the governor of the state and the Louisiana legislature have made those decisions for you. They have handcuffed you.”
School Board members and Superintendent John Gullatt have no authority to go against the Edwards’ mask proclamation, according to Guice.
On religious freedom exemption, Guice said “all religions, all denominations are equal and there is no discrimination … and the burden is minimum.”
If the School Board does not follow the mandate, they risk immunity and losing insurance coverage, he said.
“As Board Members, you took an oath,” Guice said. “And that oath said you would follow the law. It doesn’t say you would pick and choose laws. The people in the public elected you to do several things. One is to protect our kids. The CDC, regardless of the degree I have, …the mask is what you need to do.”
Edwards extended the statewide indoor mask mandate until at least Oct. 27 in late September.
Edwards first implemented mandatory face coverings in early August, saying the measure was necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19. He said the order was temporary and would last until Sept. 1, though it was extended. An identical mandate issued last year spanned nearly 12 months.
The executive order stated masks must be worn “over the nose and mouth when indoors in any place outside of a private residence,” with few exceptions.
The order also authorized citations against businesses that do not comply and law enforcement to enforce trespassing violations against workers, customers or patrons who refuse to wear a mask when asked to do so.