Protesters in Calgary call for boycott of first day of school due to mask mandate

About 50 protesters gathered outside the Calgary Board of Education headquarters in opposition of the mandatory mask mandate for children heading back to school Wednesday morning.

The group, with signs reading things like “Stop Suffocating Our Children,” then marched to the Calgary Catholic School District headquarters and remained peaceful, with a heavy police presence in suit.

“No one is saying you can’t send your kids to school with a mask, we’re saying it’s a choice and it’s a parent choice, it’s not a school board's or city councillor's choice,” said one mother at the protest with her son in attendance, who going into Grade 8.

Both the public and Catholic school boards decided to require masks for students and staff due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province and the quickly spreading, and highly contagious Delta variant.

Many doctors in the province have also called for more measures in schools leading up to the first day of class due to a lack of data on the long term effects COVID can have on kids.

Several protestors say the decision for a child to wear a mask to school or not should be left up to the parents.

“I have nothing against people who want to be vaccinated or walk around wearing a mask. I just want to have the choice and the freedom to choose for myself,” said Sandra Tennent.

The Catholic system sent a letter to parents this week saying if someone refuses their child wear a mask in school, some temporary options are available including a workspace setup elsewhere like the library, or they can register their child for online learning.