When school starts in Dover next week, students, faculty, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks in all buildings.

During a special session on Monday night, the school board voted to add the high school to places where masks will be required. On Aug. 9, they voted to require masks for elementary and middle schools.

A number of parents came out to speak during Citizens' Forum, which lasted more than half an hour. The entire meeting can be viewed here.

Resident Emily Lyon said she and her husband teach their children to be healthy, but said the mask mandates in schools have gone too far.

"Over these past 18 months, it has become clear to me that my children's health is not your top priority. Their total subservience, however, is. I am here today not only for my two precious children but for others who have issues wearing a mask for upwards of eight hours a day," Lyon said.

Lyon said by setting this precedent, children are being taught the air in their schools is deadly, that they could be the cause of someone's parents or grandparents dying, that physical touch is wrong and that seeing their parents' and peers' faces is not needed.

"Kids are not this resiliant," Lyon said, adding that masks and social distancing cause trauma, fear, anxiety, depression and issues with learning.

Resident Micaela Demeter said she has been reflecting on this issue, which has divided Dover. She talked about the most recent school board meeting.

"I saw a lot of pain from parents who resent the idea that someone would dictate medical decisions they feel are theirs and theirs alone. I saw parents so desperate to share their experience that they were willing to abandon all social norms and make their voices heard regardless of the consequences," Demeter said. "Their method was regrettable but their frustration and anger was clearly heard and felt."

Parents need to lead by example and need to encourage children to follow the rules and wear their masks, Demeter said.

 

Before the vote to mandate masks in all schools, School Board Chair Amanda Russell said there will be times when students will not be required to wear a mask.

"Our sports teams won't be masked and our kids won't be masked at recess, unless they choose to be masked, and I will tell you, I have seen kids in K to 12 opt to wear masks, even when they weren't required to," Russell said.

 

These plans may change as the community transmission rates rises or drops.

Students in Dover start classes on Sept. 1.

READ HERE: Masks Will Be Optional For All Rochester, NH Students... See What Other Seacoast Communities Are Doing

LEARN MORE: These Seacoast Communities Are Seeing More Active COVID-19 Cases

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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