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Parents, students pack Wentzville School Board meeting as mask-optional policy remains in place

"I'd rather wear a mask the entire year," said one student. "Mask wearing has had negative effects on me emotionally and academically," said another

WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Lots of parents and students came prepared to take the podium at the Wentzville school board meeting Wednesday night.

Some parents pleaded to the board to keep the district's mask optional policy in place.

"Tonight I want to talk to you about the mental, emotional and relational effects masks are having on our kids," said Danita Francis, a concerned parent.

Other moms and dads were clearly against their kids having to mask up when the new school year starts on Tuesday, as were some students.

"It was a very sad and stressful time for me," said Ellie Kleffner, a junior at Holt High School.

Kleffner told the school board wearing a mask in class last year affected her academically, emotionally and personally.

"There was nothing fun to look forward to anymore. No football games, dances, nothing. It was the worst school year I ever had," said Kleffner.

READ MORE: Kids and COVID-19: How to keep the unvaccinated safe at school

Other students, concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant asked the board to enact a mask mandate.

"I'd rather wear a mask all day during the entire school year, rather than going virtual again or anything worse happening to me and my peers," said Sruthi Ramesh, a senior in the district.

School board members admit the mask issue has ignited division, confusion and lots of questions throughout the community. 

After nearly an hour and a half, no changes were made and the district's mask optional policy remains on the books.

A spokesperson for the Wentzville School District said Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain “doesn’t have a statement regarding the mask optional policy and his stance is that we will be following the direction that the board of education has asked us to take.”