Haverhill Parents’ Group Seeks to Overturn Mandatory Masks in School, Plans Meeting Aug. 31

Logo accompanying petition at Change.org.

A group, calling itself “Haverhill Parents for Mask Choice” is seeking to overturn the School Committee’s recent decision requiring staff and students to wear masks upon returning to school.

The group is having an informational event Tuesday, Aug. 31, from 5-8 p.m., at Maria’s Family Restaurant, 81 Essex St., in downtown Haverhill. Members seek parents willing to sign a petition opposing mandatory masks and speak against them at the next School Committee meeting, Thursday, Sept. 9.

“We want you to know the information and why we are challenging our School Committee’s decision to mandate masks. We felt it was important to have a face-to-face with the community,” Amanda McCann-Dalleva wrote in an email.

Haverhill Parents for Mask Choice had begun organizing before last week’s School Committee vote. A petition against mandatory masks was listed online at Change.org by Laura Campbell, who also spoke at the Aug. 12 meeting.

“Masks are a medical treatment with real risks so it is critical that each individual family is able to decide whether or not to mask their child based on the parent’s assessment of risks versus benefit for their own individual child,” she said.

As of Wednesday night, her petition had garnered 270 signatures.

School Committee members also heard from parents in favor of the mandatory masks.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the Committee the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education eliminated the online learning option and mandated all students must attend school in person, five days per week.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, who serves as School Committee chairman, Vice Chairman Scott W. Wood Jr. and members Richard J. Rosa, Gail M. Sullivan and Toni Sapienza Donais voted in favor of the mask policy, while member Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello was opposed and Paul A. Magliocchetti was absent. The Committee agreed at the time to revisit the matter in September.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Medical Society President Dr. Carole Allen and Massachusetts Academy of Family Pediatricians President Dr. Julie Johnston described mask-wearing as “a public health measure proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19” and said it is crucial to balance safety with the importance of returning “to full-time, in-person learning with as little disruption as possible.”

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