About two dozen people lined 17th Avenue South near Century Elementary School on Monday morning, Sept. 13, to protest the School Board’s decision to require face-masking inside schools.

They held signs with messages expressing their opposition to the decision, such as “My child my choice,” “Let our kids breathe,” “My civils rights matter” and “This is child abuse.” Some signs read “Fire Brenner.” Terry Brenner is superintendent of Grand Forks Public Schools.

Some drivers honked as they drove by.

David Waterman, one of the organizers of the protest, said he hoped the rally would affect the board’s stance on mask-wearing.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish is to reverse their foolish decision to require children to wear a useless piece of fabric while they’re in school,” said Waterman.

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“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion,” he said, “but it should be a matter of science and not opinion.” He claims science does not support the use of masks as an effective means of protection against COVID-19.

According to the CDC, at least 10 different studies have confirmed the “benefit of universal masking” in communal analyses. According to the CDC, each of these analyses indicate that when universal masking is instituted by political and organizational leaders, new infections fell significantly.

Waterman and the protesters are calling on the School Board to “do the right thing” by reversing its mask mandate, Waterman said. If the board does not reverse its decision, Waterman’s group is considering a recall effort, he said.

Children will have “lifelong scarring,” in terms of intellectual and emotional well-being, because of masking in school, Waterman claimed. “(They) are 18 months behind academically, and based on past (similar) events, they don’t catch up.”

Mary Dietrich said she is “concerned about the children” and the effect masking has on their ability to understand their teachers. She participated in Monday’s protest “because I believe that the science supports what we’re saying,” she said.

Masking should be a choice, not a requirement, she said.

Josh McSparron said it is important “to let our kids make their choices and parents make their choices for their health.”

In participating in the protest, he said he was “standing up for rights that I think belong to the family, not to school boards, not to state government, not to the federal government.”

Michael Coachman, who ran for governor of North Dakota in 2020, said the mask mandate “is bullying on an adult level because (it) is going to affect the kids.”

He said that “for the ones who cannot speak for themselves, who are afraid or intimidated, I’m going to stand up for them. I’m going to stand up and say, I’m going to be your representative for you. ...

“I believe in our freedom. I believe we should choose what goes on with our bodies.”

“It’s about we the people,” Coachman said. “We the people are supposed to be saying to the government, this is what we want. Not the government saying, this is what you’re going to get, you don’t have a voice. They’re taking our Constitution and our voices away, and I’m here to fight for the people.”

A woman holding a sign reading, “I survived COVID,” said, “I feel it’s a human right to mask or not mask, and that people should be able to choose and not be forced.” The woman, the parent of a child who’s gone through Grand Forks public schools, gave her first name, Angie, but declined to give her last name.