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Utah schools turn away students participating in maskless 'See My Smile' protest

Posted at 7:16 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 13:55:32-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Students who attempted to go to school without masks Monday were turned away due to a state mandate that remains in effect for K-12 schools through June 15.

The maskless students were participating in the "See My Smile" protest organized by Utah Parents United. The parents agreed to walk their kids into their schools without masks and declare the students would no longer wear the protective face coverings.

Breann Johnson was one of the parents who tried to get her student into school without a mask Monday. She said she was disappointed in the outcome, but she appreciated the principal's handling of the issue.

"It didn't go as I wanted it to, but my principal was so kind, so understanding, so amazing. She just looked over the letter and was like 'I understand where you're coming from. I wish that our kids didn't have to wear masks. But you have to go about this right way and through the right avenue.'," Johnson said.

Utah's statewide mask mandate ended Saturday, but the mandate for students, teachers and school staff members remains in place for two more months.

On Saturday afternoon, members of a group called "Utah Parents United" participated in protests outside school district offices, urging families to make their own decisions about the use of masks in schools.

RELATED: Here's where masks are still required after end of Utah mandate

"Their rights are not being honored. School districts are turning parents away and refusing to educate their kids," said Corinne Johnson, a spokeswoman for Utah Parents United.

Last week, representatives for several school districts told FOX 13 they will continue to follow the state's public health order that requires the continued use of masks in public schools.

RELATED: Utah counties deciding whether to continue mask mandate

A Davis School District representative said unless a student has an approved medical exemption, they will not be allowed to remain in the classroom without a mask.

RELATED: Utah's governor extends mask mandate for state employees, facilities