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Parents say mask breaks are essential for students after push back from Erie County Department of Health

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Nov 09, 2021

WILLIAMSVILLE, NY (WKBW) — Parents in Williamsville and Hamburg shared their concerns at separate meetings Tuesday night.

“Mask breaks, once an hour, for five minutes, that’s all we’re asking for,” parent Molly Armbruster said.

They said if their children are required to wear masks, it should not be all day.

“Anyone who thinks this is no big deal to kids, they can wear it all day, that is totally not true,” parent Tim Terrill said.

According to the Erie County Department of Health COVID-19 case rates are the highest they have been since April.

The department said in a statement:

ECDOH joins with parents and school administrators in wanting to maximize in-person learning, prevent illness among our county’s youngest residents, and bring a safe and quick end to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an opportunity to remind parents and caregivers that full vaccination against COVID-19 provides a protective benefit for children ages 5 and older, and eliminates the need for quarantine if that child is a COVID-19 close contact and remains asymptomatic.

RELATED STORY: ECDOH addresses 'mask break' complaints in schools

“Wearing a mask for 7 hours a day can be very uncomfortable,” parent and Mayor of the Village of Williamsville Deb Rogers said.

Superintendent of Williamsville Schools, Doctor Darren Brown-Hall said the push back from the department will not affect his decision to make students more comfortable.

“As we were before, making sure students have mask breaks, we will continue that,” Dr. Brown-Hall said.

Some parents said this is a matter of choice.

“We we’re not pro-vax, we’re not anti-vax, we’re not pro-mask, anti-mask, we want parents to have the choice,” parent Steven Barber said.

Others said for now, mask breaks are a reasonable first step towards no masks at all.

“Best case scenario masks will be eliminated because we all know what’s coming is mandated vaccines,” Armbruster said.

The Erie County Department of Health said they won’t take enforcement measures against schools that are providing students with mask breaks.