On Feb. 13, an Instagram post by @wetheparentsoswego308 shared information about a rally against wearing masks in school. Students planned to rally before school on Feb. 15, but even as the first period bell rang at 7:20 a.m., there were no students participating.
The purpose of this rally was to meet at the flagpole of Oswego schools so that students could walk into school together maskless. Heather Gregar, a parent in the district who owns the Instagram account and administers the Facebook group We the Parents of Oswego 308, thought it could be a significant help to students who are against wearing masks in school.
“A lot of people have gotten caught up in just the take on the virus, but what they fail to realize is that these masks are having a negative effect on mental health,” Gregar said. “I think that our special needs community, most importantly the deaf and hard of hearing program…are struggling.”
Gregar hoped to give students an opportunity to stand up against the in-school mask mandate with support from their peers.
“The original plan was really just made to give kids an opportunity for support because a lot of times it’s hard to do things by yourself,” Gregar said. “But if you have a friend with you, sometimes it makes things a bit easier, and we just wanted to give the students an opportunity to support each other.”
The would-be rally came shortly after many recent demonstrations against the mask mandate in schools at other nearby school districts. One recently occurred outside of Oswego High School on Sunday, Feb. 13, which, according to Gregar’s Instagram post, had over 100 participants. However, no students participated in the demonstration planned for Feb. 15, which Gregar theorized was due to a fear of being bullied.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids attacking other kids,” Gregar said. “And I think kids are tired, and I think they’re afraid of being attacked by other people who don’t agree with their choice.”
However, students claimed it was a lack of logistics that led to a lack of attendance.
“People planning on going to the rally…did not because there was no time posted,” senior Maya Griegel said.
Other students chose not to participate due to not wanting to take the situation directly to school.
“There’s more peaceful ways to do it than to break the rules right now, like going to board meetings and doing other stuff outside of school, not breaking their ,” sophomore Kaylee Lachapell, who was against the temporary restraining order regarding mask mandates in schools but did not participate in the rally, said. “It’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s not anyone’s fault.”
Though the mask rally did not take place, Gregar still insisted that she thinks this is a problem to be solved in Oswego.
“What it means to me really at the end of the day is choice. I think everybody should have the ability to make a decision when it comes to their life and their health and their well being,” Gregar said.
Additional Reporting by Ana Iracheta
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There was also a rally on Sunday as well where plenty of people showed up. Yet that one wasn’t talked about. There also wasn’t any talk about what nasty comments were on that post which caused the owner to take it down. At this point we were too afraid to say what we wanted to say, hence my “quote”, because of the threats and harsh comments we’re getting. Maybe a better topic of discussion would be the treatment towards sticking up for ourselves. So glad masks are optional now.