Since COVID-19 began, infection rates have inconsistently decreased and increased, and there has been much debate over whether schools should mandate masks. In the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the main people in charge of these decisions are members of the school board. Between the school board meetings held in December 2021 to January 2022, a group of 12 adults have taken advantage of the “public opinion” time within the meetings to freely express their concerns to the district— specifically, the mandate regarding whether students should have to wear masks or if it should be an individual choice.
Mask mandates have always been controversial, but recently it has consumed the talk of these weekly meetings. During the “public opinion” portion of the meeting, the 12 adults tried to persuade the board to ban the mandate.The free time that is in the meetings allows the adults to state their opinion, but it also allows others to respond to the original speaker. This creates high tension within the room and eventually ends in a divided argument. One side of the argument is pro-mask mandate, while the other is anti-mask. Community members who identify as anti-mask mandate, have come together to create an online petition that demands to impeach all school board members.
It is unclear at this time who made the petition, but to contradict it, another was made by pro-mask and secretary at University of Iowa, Kathy Klein. This was made to encourage parents and other adults to write about the positive impacts having a mask mandate has had on their students. In the comments of this petition people showed their support of the CRCSD and mask mandates. One commenter, Barb Polglaze, writes, “I fully support the Cedar Rapids community school board members who support the mask mandate to keep our schools healthy.” Since January 30, the petition has been closed and does not accept signatures or comments.
Lee Boeylan was one of the community members that had a negative view on mask mandates and took his time at the meeting to address his opinions on the Big Pharma conspiracy. The Big Pharma conspiracy includes a group of conspiracies that claim that all medical related communities operate for sinister purposes and are actually against the public’s health by working to worsen a disease with a cure or treatment for profit. Boeylan believes that the mask mandate is included in this conspiracy, and that it doesn’t actually help prevent the spread of any disease, let alone the Coronavirus.
Masks have been scientifically proven to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through a study aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. This study proved that masks have reduced the spread of covid by 70%. Knowing that masks really prevent the spread of this illness brings up the question of why community members want the mandate removed? Is it truly about safety or other underlying reasons?