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Protest planned on first day of mask requirement in Fort Zumwalt district

The protest was planned to take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday

O'FALLON, Mo. — Thursday is the first day of the school year teachers and students in the Fort Zumwalt School District will be walking into class required to wear a mask.

There have been months of debate around whether to mask up in Fort Zumwalt schools.

Students and staff in the Fort Zumwalt School District will be wearing masks for the next 30 days. The policy is going to be revisited at the next school board meeting, scheduled for Oct.18.

5 On Your Side was told there would be an anti-mask protest outside the Fort Zumwalt district office Thursday in response to the new policy. There’s a Facebook page for the event called “Fort Zumwalt Mask Protest & Student Sit-Out.” The group planned to meet at 8 a.m.

The page has this posted in the description for the demonstration:

‘‘Fort Zumwalt School District mask protest and student sit-out. LET OUR KIDS BREATHE! With less than a 1% positivity rate, 4 board members voted to take away the breathing rights of 18,000 students. Come join us as we advocate for our children's rights and freedoms and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!’

Fort Zumwalt schools started the 2021-2022 school year with a mask-optional policy.

At one point, the district had 350 students in quarantine toward the beginning of the year.

Over the last two weeks, the district has had 108 student COVID-19 cases and 216 students in quarantine.

School officials are hoping the new policy can get those numbers down and allow more students to be eligible for less strict quarantine rules if they are exposed to COVID.

Parents have been very vocal on both sides of the issue since before classes started.