It was just another mandate Monday.
That is, except for students, parents and teachers in California who are tapping into the deep reservoir of American resistance to authority in a grassroots protest movement known as “No Mandate Monday.”
In response to sanctions against what once was normal life, protests are happening outside of schools. And in some cases, people are showing their full faces to one another without masks while inside school buildings.
But the consequences of a breath of fresh air are nothing to sneeze at.
Michael Wilkes, 38, who teaches at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, California, was placed on paid administrative leave for going maskless in front of students and accepts that the investigation into his conduct could cost him his job, according to Fox News.
“I have tremendous peace of mind knowing that I’m living true to my heart,” he said.
Wilkes said he has broad support, including the backing of some who are too timid to say out loud what they tell him privately. He noted that after 18 months of lockdowns and mandates, this is no longer solely about public health.
“This has become bigger than masks, bigger than the vaccine,” he said. “It’s about individual liberty and the parents being able to make decisions for their children.”
California requires everyone in a school to be masked, and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants in-person-learning students vaccinated against the coronavirus when their age groups are able to get the shots.
A recent video of disobedience was shared on Twitter.
Just saw a video of a completely mask-free high-school class here in California.
They’re doing “No-Mask Mondays” in protest after a kid who couldn’t wear one was disciplined because of our state’s indefinite school mask mandate.
They’re calling on others to join them next week.
— Reopen California Schools (@ReopenCASchools) October 25, 2021
“HAPPENING RIGHT NOW,” the post read. “46 STUDENTS CHOSE TO UNMASK with the support of some teachers but are being kept in two separate rooms by admin at Ponderosa High School without instruction in El Dorado County CA. They sent us this video and asked us to share this developing situation.”
The classes are being called “non-compliance” rooms.
Reopen California Schools, a volunteer group, said “No-Mask Mondays” came about in response to the heavy hand of authority punishing a non-conformist. A student “who couldn’t wear one was disciplined because of our state’s indefinite school mask mandate,” the group’s post said.
Wilkes said the senior at his high school, whom he called a “straight-A angel,” tried to enter the school without a mask and was bounced from the school campus as a result.
Jonathan Zachreson, the founder of Reopen California Schools, said he started his push to get students back inside the classroom when schools in the state first closed to in-person classes in 2020. He said that although the state has reopened schools, these mandates continue to take a toll on students.
“So much has been taken from kids this past 18 months,” Zachreson said, according to Fox News. “We need to give them back some normalcy.”
Redding resident Christa Reid, who has been organizing a “No Mandate Monday” protest at Northstate Independence High School, said there is a gain in what students are learning based on the time they spend outside of school protesting, according to KRCR-TV.
“Yes, they may miss a moment — a lesson, a moment of interactions with teachers or interactions with peers — but in the long run, by pulling her kids out of school, you are creating an opportunity to talk about why we are leaving behind a day of education,” Reid said.
“And the consequence for not doing something, I think, is far worse than missing some class.”
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