SHAWNEE, Kan. — A local mom is outraged, saying pictures show her kids alone, isolated from their classmates in school.
Ruby Gonzales said the schools are doing this because her students won’t wear masks.
While they wouldn’t address a specific case, the Shawnee Mission School District said it’s doing it to keep everyone safe.
“My kids will not be wearing a mask. I will not be wearing a mask,” Gonzales said. “I have a choice. Everybody else has a choice.”
Gonzales said a picture shows her daughter, a seventh grader at Trailridge Middle School, alone in the corner of the classroom.
She said another photo shows her son, a freshman at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, also working alone at a desk.
“My son is in his classroom with the door closed. My daughter is, too,” Gonzales said. “No interaction, their teacher does come up, but that’s pretty much it.”
Gonzales believes the masks are having an adverse effect on her children.
“It bothers them. My son cannot breathe,” Gonzales said. “There’s times where my daughter has [physical education class] and she just cannot breathe.”
FOX4 brought her concerns to the Shawnee Mission School District. David Smith is the Chief Communications Officer.
“We have a mask mandate in place,” Smith said. “And that’s a requirement for anybody who is in our buildings. And we have to be able to enforce that.”
Smith said the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment just recommended the school district keep the mask mandate last week, and that was communicated to parents.
“It’s one of the measures including social distancing, wearing masks, sanitation; we’ve got to be able to enforce those things in order to assure our community that we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids safe,” Smith said.
But, school district policy does state this: ‘We will work on a case by case basis with those students/staff unable to wear a mask.’
“They do want me to get a paper filled out that says they are exempt, but I’m not going to be doing that,” Gonzales said. “To me, we’re done. We need to move forward.”
“Why? It would be so easy to just get them exempt,” FOX4 Reporter Russell Colburn replied.
“We have a choice, Gonzales said. “Enough is enough. We’re not in jail.”
The director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment did not agree to be interviewed for this report, but did say the district’s response is consistent with their recommendations.
They did reiterate students can have a medical or religious exemption for masks.