GREEN RIVER — A Green River resident and parent of children who attend Sweetwater County School District No. 2 (SCSD No. 2) schools asked for the Board of Trustees to “take a stand” against mask use within the schools during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Charles Hafner addressed the board Tuesday night, questioning why students are still being required to wear masks when the statewide mask mandate has expired. The statewide mask mandate ended in March, however, health orders still require the use of masks within schools when social distancing cannot be maintained.
“I don’t know why we’re still making our kids wear masks,” Hafner said.
According to the state, exemptions to this health order can be requested if the county that school district resides in is considered a “green zone” county according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force. This means the county must have “low” transmission levels.
The 14-day transmission indicator report from April 21 to May 4 indicated Sweetwater County has moderate-high transmission levels, according the task force.
However, Hafner claimed masks are not healthy for children, and particularly children with certain disabilities or medical issues. He also said that the school district is required by several laws and statutes that require them to provide services to the public, being parents and children, without “discrimination” or “unfair treatment”.
“SCSD No. 2 serves the public and therefore must abide by all state and federal laws. No policy supersedes the law. No governor’s order, health order, or emergency or pandemic supersedes our constitutionally protected rights. SCSD No. 2 is a public school system open to the public, and the parents and the children are the public,” Hafner said.
Hafner cited the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, several Code of Federal Regulations laws, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, saying they all serve as different bindings and protections for the public when being required to wear masks within schools.
“SCSD No. 2 cannot legally deny my children public education for not wearing masks. Federal law CFR § 36.202 prohibits denial of participation. You may not exclude them from the same and equal treatment and right to public education as others. Denying them or requiring them to be limited to home or receive education is a violation of Title 2, 3 and 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which basically states that my children shall not be denied participation and equal access as everyone else with or without a disability or a medical condition. The law prohibits serving them separately or differently or unlawfully discriminating,” he said.
“Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability or a medical condition. Title 3 states public accommodations must comply with the basic non-discrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, discrimination, and unequal treatment,” Hafner said.
“HIPAA privacy laws state that they’re there to protect the privacy of health information and that we’re not legally obligated to disclose our children’s disabilities or medical conditions,” he continued.
Hafner said that his children are exempt from wearing masks in public, as masks pose a health risk to them.
“My children are exempt from any ordinance or mandate requiring mask usage in public. Wearing masks poses a health risk to them. Under the ADA, HIPPA, the first and fourth amendments, they are not required to disclose their medical conditions to you. It is a violation to require me to disclose their health information to you,” Hafner said.
He claimed that penalties for violating these laws and acts are “steep” including fines upward of $75,000 to $150,000.
Hafner: Elected Officials Should Stand Up Against “Medical Tyanny”
Hafner said that the elected officials on the school board should represent the people who elected them. He said this means they should stand up against the “medical tyranny” of mask requirements.
“This is America, one nation under God, free and sovereign. This is not communist China. I’d like to remind the elected officials that they are public servants who, if I’m not mistaken, took an oath. I’m asking all the elected officials here in attendance to represent the people who elected you by taking a stand and speaking out against this medical tyranny that our community has dealt with for far too long,” he said.
He furthered his comments by saying that if they don’t “stand up for the rights of our kids to breathe fresh air,” then the community will elect new leaders.
During board member comments, Trustee David Young pointed out that no activities had to be cancelled within SCSD No. 2 due to illness.
“There’s probably 5 percent of school districts, probably less than that, who can say that… I know it’s uncomfortable and none of us like wearing those things but you’ve made it,” Young said.
He thanked the district staff for their efforts in keeping the schools and activities running this school year.
According to Chairman Steve Core, no masks will be required at Green River High School (GRHS) graduation ceremony, which will take place at Wolves Stadium. He said that Expedition Academy High School (EAHS) will have a few requirements.
The last day of school in SCSD No. 2 is May 21, with GRHS’ graduation taking place May 17 and EAHS’ taking place May 18.