PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Just one day into the school year, high schoolers in Pike County are protesting the statewide mask requirement. About 20 people showed up outside Belfry High School Friday morning, to tell school leaders they won’t wear masks in class.
LEX 18’s partners at Mountain Top Media shared video of the protest, which included both students and parents.
“It’s not keeping me from learning,” one unidentified student told the Mountain Top reporter. “I just don’t think we should have to wear one.”
Students reportedly tried to enter the building, but school officials turned them away. One man, who identified himself as a coach and teacher from a different district, said he’s concerned about the impact of masks on his students.
“I’m sick and tired of what they're doing to these kids,” he said. “They don't see the effects of what's happening to these kids. I’m a coach, I’m a teacher, I see it. It’s destroying these kids. It’s tearing them up on the inside.”
He also said his family contracted COVID, and he believes masks should still be optional.
“For me it was mild symptoms,” he said. “For my mom, she was almost on life support. Everybody's different. That doesn't mean it should apply to everybody. COVID doesn't affect everybody the same.”
State data shows Pike County is currently in the red zone, indicating high rates of virus transmission. 40 percent of the population is vaccinated. The health department says its not enough as their local hospitals enter “crisis mode.” They’re asking people to get vaccinated and wear masks inside public places.
“Pikeville Medical Center has opted to suspend certain medical procedures,” health director Tammy Riley said during a Facebook video Thursday. “Emergency rooms, private practices, and urgent care centers are overwhelmed.”
But parents outside Belfry promised to keep protesting until their kids are allowed back in class – maskless.