Durham students refuse to wear masks, not allowed inside classrooms

One parent from Durham is claiming her son's school is treating him unfairly for not wearing a mask indoors at school.

Posted: Sep 13, 2021 6:35 PM
Updated: Sep 14, 2021 8:54 AM

DURHAM, Calif. – One parent is claiming her son's school is treating him unfairly for not wearing a mask.

Action News Now took the claims to the Durham Unified School District.

“I’m choosing not to wear a mask,” Durham High Student Frederick Southworth said.

In Durham, all students are required to wear their masks while they're sitting inside their classrooms.

“I’m sitting outside because the Principal or the Superintendent, Mr. Bohannon will not let me inside a class without wearing a mask," Southworth said. 

Durham High students, Frederick Southworth and Jeremiah Badie have been doing their schoolwork outside for the last 2 weeks.
Jeremiah's mom, Jynaia is upset, saying it should be his choice whether to wear a mask.

“It’s really disheartening, but I’m proud of the boys that they're able to take this on because if it wasn't freedom fighters like them we would not have the United States of America,” she said.

Badie tells me she believes the school is violating her son's constitutional and religious rights.

“Us parents are tired and we are not going take it anymore,” Badie said.

Action News Now brought these concerns to Durham Superintendent, John Bohannon who says they are following the guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.

“Parents and students were notified they would not be allowed in the classroom without following state mandate to wear masks and when we had high school students who refused to come to class with a mask,” Bohannon said. “We provided a shaded area where they can do school work outside. We are doing what's best for our students, we want students in classrooms, and the state requires them to wear a mask, we are following the rules for all students. If they're not wearing a mask they have to sit outside,” he added.

“I hope to sit outdoors and protest as long as I can, I want to keep protesting to hopefully make it an optional thing for everyone,” Southworth said. 

“We need parents to work with us so students can be in class every day,” Bohannon said.

Bohannon says they plan to work with parents to figure out how to move forward but says the students will not be allowed inside until they wear a mask.

He says out of 1,000 students who attend school in Durham, only about 5 are going against the mask mandate.

He also says Badie filed a religious exemption that was denied because the state only allows medical exemptions.

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