Students and parents from across the state came to the state Capitol Wednesday to ask lawmakers to end the mask mandate immediately.
Ellen Kappes, a senior at Hall High School in West Hartford, said lockdowns and quarantines created an “intense feeling of burnout among most high school students.”
“Masks make class so impersonal that I feel like I’m looking into a sea of blank faces,” Kappes said. “No one talks to each other anymore.”
Earlier this week Gov. Ned Lamont said he hoped to give the authority for masking back to local school boards by the end of the month. But lawmakers, who were convening for the 2022 legislative session Wednesday, still need to weigh in.
The House is expected to vote on Thursday to extend Lamont’s executive orders. If they extend the mask mandate the power to reinstitute masks would remain with the Commissioner of Public Health, who has said it’s time to end it.
Parents told lawmakers on Tuesday that they want to see the masks removed, and many were concerned about turning it over to local control.
“Allowing state agencies to guide local policy based on fluctuating case numbers and vaccination percentages is not helpful at all. We either know what’s best for our children’s health or we don’t,” Elizabeth Patterson said.
Patterson said the decision should be left up to parents.
“My rights as a parent should not change district to district,” Patterson said.
John Paul Peck, a sophomore at St. Bernard’s High School in Montville, said the past two years have made things challenging.
“The governor’s mandates has made it feel like we are the virus and we are the problem,” Peck said.
He said he stood up for a sixth grader who was reprimanded for his mask falling below his nose and he was disciplined as a result.
Annabell Miner, a senior at Bristol High School, said she’s fully vaccinated but has a medical exemption from wearing a mask. She said she has been kicked out of school as a result. She said it’s been months.
Lucas Johonson, a senior from Griswold, said he’s no longer in contention for a scholarship because of quarantines.
“Catching up and succeeding academically seems almost impossible for most students,” Johnson said.
Kappes said it has taken a toll on mental health. She said in West Hartford 14% of the students are on track to receive suicide and self-harm intervention by June.
Wayne Savluck, a small business owner from Lisbon, said that these mandates are a restriction on the freedom of American citizens.
“The mandates are tyrannical, they’re not what America is made for,” Savluck said, “I’m not a politically motivated person, but it’s time to take our state back”
Jessica Hyland, a mom with three kids from Norwalk, said that she is here for her children.
“I think all of this is really sick and unfair to them,” she said.