Illinois High School Freshman Issued One Day Suspension After ‘Politely Declining’ To Wear A Face Mask

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Source: LifestyleVisuals / Getty

14-year-old freshman NaTalia Urlacher received a one-day suspension and was sent home early from Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois, for declining to wear a face mask before going inside the building on its the day of school.

“My daughter was handed a mask at the door, and she told them politely, ‘I don’t really participate in that,’” the child’s mother Sheri Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. “They repeatedly asked her to pull the mask up over her mouth and nose, and when she politely declined, they called me.”

Although she didn’t comment on Urlacher’s case, specifically, Township High School District 211 representative Erin Homles shared that the district is “required to enforce the state of Illinois’ school mask mandate to minimize the risk of COVID virus transmission,” and that the requirement is a “matter of public safety.”

“A student’s refusal to wear a mask poses a potential threat to the safety of other students and staff as we return to full in-person instruction,” Holmes went on to say.

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a mask mandate for Pre-K through 12th grade on August 4, according to a press release on Illinois. gov.

NaTalia’s suspension comes as schools across the country try to navigate re-opening safely, respect individual’s rights while protecting others’, and adhere to federal face covering and mask recommendations.

The girl’s mother confirmed that the 14-year-old returned to school with a mask on the day after she was sent home early.

“She’s OK, but she knows she has the right to make decisions about her own body, and it’s not the right of the school and government,” Sheri told the Chicago Tribune.

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“A lot of people are asking questions of how it’s legal for the governor to make these rules requiring masks, when it’s not a law, and we want those questions answered,” the mother added.

“If her pediatrician and our doctors tell her she shouldn’t wear a mask, that’s who I’m going to listen to,” Sheri told NBC 5 Chicago in another interview. “I’m never going to take health advice from any school, administrator, school district, or even our Governor.”

“We want to know why our children are being disciplined or bullied into wearing a mask when they’re not sick,” she emphasized.

According to the outlet, the governor’s spokesperson highlighted a recent comment Pritzker made:

“School districts have been enforcing dress codes for many, many years and so they’re expected to do the same thing they’ve been doing literally for decades and I expect that people will do the right thing, nonetheless, and not put their school district in a difficult situation of having to tell somebody, ‘follow the rules.'”

Sheri shared the advice she gave NaTalia on how to move forward:

“I basically told her do what the other kids are doing and wear a mask underneath your nose and as far as you can off your mouth so that your breathing is not restricted.”

As of August 5, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends full vaccination as “the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” and “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”