SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Parents in Shippensburg are threatening to defy the mask mandate that board members voted to keep in place at a Monday night meeting.

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The school board has been back and forth on the issue. Originally the plan was to make masking optional in the district.

Then, last Monday, the board voted to put a mask mandate in place. Many parents were angry about the decision and fought against it at a meeting on Wednesday.

Based on that reaction the board decided to hold a special meeting this Monday to discuss the masking issue. Ultimately they voted to uphold the mask mandate, meaning masks will be required when students start school on Thursday.

Parent Steve Cena railed against masking during public comment.

“It’s 100% useless, the facemask it’s useless,” Cena said.

Other parents filled the auditorium, many others also opposing masks, like Heather Townsend.

“The masks do nothing for our children,” Townsend said.

Steph Eberly was another parent who asked the board to make masking optional.

“You as school directors are not doctors, epidemiologists, infectious diseases doctors, and are not qualified to make such decisions. You know who is qualified to make that decision? Me, her mother,” Eberly said.

Parent Erica Call argued for the mask mandate.

“He told me, I don’t want anyone to get sick. He was perfectly happy wearing his mask. If a 4-year-old can figure it out, I think the rest of us can too,” Call said.

Dad Todd Raleigh agreed.

“Think of all the people’s lives you help save by wearing a mask and practicing the common decency of trying to help the general public,” Raleigh said.

Student Raven Hughes weighed in during the meeting.

“If you were to force a child to wear a mask against their will it could be looked upon as child abuse. And if you think about it, you’re taking away their freedom and their rights,” Hughes said.

Parent Darren Donovan says his kids won’t be following the mandate.

“Our children will not be muzzled by the school district. They will be at their school Thursday morning and they will walk the hallways of their school unmasked and unafraid because it is their right to do so,” Donovan said.

Superintendent Dr. Chris Suppo says violations of the mask mandate will be handled like violations of the dress code. However, he says they hope to be able to work with families so that disciplinary action can be avoided.