SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On Friday, dozens of parents and students gathered in front of Pershing School as part of a protest against the district’s masking mandate and other rules surrounding COVID-19. Members of the group chanted “No more masks!” as they gathered outside, holding signs with messages like “Free to choose,” “Masks get in the way of learning,” and “Make SPS great again”

“Basically they’ve been forced to wear masks for almost 2 years now,” Pershing School parent Miranda Dusenberry said. “We don’t really see the point in it anymore. It’s causing a lot of distraction for the students, a lot of stress for the students, trauma. Ultimately what we want is for these masking mandates, for the quarantine mandates, for the vaccine mandates to be dropped within our schools. There’s no place for health mandates whatsoever.”

Parents posted about the plans in a public Facebook group called Springfield Public Schools – Parents Speak Out! after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he wants parents to report schools enforcing mask mandates.

“I think our point is really clear here,” Dusenberry said. “Our point is to drop the mandates that are illegally in place right now. SPS has no right to have these mandates going on, especially since our attorney general made it illegal for them to do so. As far as I understand he does have a lot of authority in the matter.”

On December 8, Springfield Public Schools released a letter saying SPS has repeatedly shared its intent to remove the district’s masking requirement in January. SPS acknowledged receiving the letter about COVID-19 measures from Attorney General Eric Schmitt. According to SPS, there is a 30-day period before the decision from the Cole County Circuit Court is final.

“Our goal right now is to stay focused on the next eight days of the semester and look ahead to winter break and the opportunity for all of our students who have made the choice to get vaccinated to have the opportunity to do so,” Chief Communications Officer Stephen Hall said. “We are welcoming 24-thousand students into our classrooms every day. We certainly understand and respect that there are a variety of opinions on this issue. However it is our responsibility to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect every one of the students in our classroom.”

SPS states attorneys are looking over the ruling and says COVID-19 protocols will remain in place until the semester ends on December 22.

“We will always comply with the law,” Hall said. “We will that and [the ruling] is currently under review and we will be ready to follow the guidance that we receive at the end of that review process.”