Lincoln parents call LPS mask policy for special education students unfair

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This article was published on 1011Now by Bayley Bischof on August 12, 2021.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – For most Lincoln Public School students in seventh grade or above, masks are optional.

But not for everyone.

Students in certain special education and life skills classes are required to mask up regardless of age or vaccination status.

Some parents of those students tell 10/11 NOW they aren’t against masks, but this policy isn’t fair.

“I think that’s putting targets on some backs,” said Gina Dubbs, whose son is affected.

The LPS Safe Return to School Plan said students who are in the individual success program, life skills and independence academy are required to mask at all times because they have high medical, health, and other needs.

Jillian Carter, whose son is a Lincoln High student with autism, isn’t immunocompromised.

“They aren’t inherently more at risk than other kids,” Carter said. “There are medically fragile kids not in special education too.”

Dubbs said her son who has down syndrome is immunocompromised and the mask mandate doesn’t go far enough to protect him.

“The science says I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me,” she said. “With only special education kids wearing masks they’re not achieving what they set out to.”

LPS sent a statement, saying in part they’re protecting the students who have high medical, health and other needs by having students and staff wear face coverings in certain special education programs. The statement also said 17 special education classrooms had to shut down and quarantine last year, and they don’t want that to happen again.

The parents said if the district truly wanted to protect students, their kids wouldn’t be the only ones in masks.

“If I had my way everyone would be masked up,” Carter said. “I think that’s the best way to protect our kids and staff.”