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Parents of a first grader decide to homeschool if RCAS doesn’t implement masks in school

Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:49 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Rapid City Area school board meetst Monday, just hours before kids put on their backpacks, hop on the bus, and head to classrooms with the option to go maskless.

With COVID cases increasing and the Delta variant spreading, one set of parents decided over the weekend to homeschool their child, believing the classroom would be unsafe for their son.

Heading into the 2021/2022 school year, parents of a Rapid City Area Schools 1st grader made the last-minute decision to homeschool their son.

“I don’t have any other options,” said Erika Peterson, a RCAS parent. “I don’t have a vaccine that I can give him and so I’m going to do whatever I possibly can. Like is homeschooling him the best option? No, that’s hard on everybody. It’s hard on him. It’s hard on us.”

“The school board has been very adamant about keeping what they believe is kids free and face to face contact, we just had a difference of opinion about it,” said Craig Mount, a RCAS parent.

Balancing the mental and physical health of their son has left the Mount-Peterson household reeling.

“He doesn’t get to go and meet the teacher. And he doesn’t get to see his new classroom. And meet all of his new classmates,” said Peterson. “How cool that was for me at his age, those experiences that unfortunately do get taken away but then I think about, would I ever forgive myself If I knew that I didn’t do everything in my power to protect him.”

RCAS is entering the school year almost normal, pending Monday night’s school board meeting, with no strict guidelines or virtual learning for students.

Peterson said she cannot fathom the risk of her child’s safety, likening the situation to something all parents know too well, buckling their children into the car.

“I buckle my kid into a child safety, five-point harness, because that’s what’s recommended for his height and weight and science has proven that that saves lives, by buckling your kid. I don’t just throw my kid into the car,” continued Peterson. “I don’t take those chances. And the same thing goes with my kid’s health.”

Mom and dad said only two things would get their son back into the classroom, a vaccine, which isn’t yet available, or a mask mandate.

“What is eight months of him not being in school with his friends versus potentially a lifetime of consequences,” said Mount. ”I don’t want this viewed as a political issue, it’s a matter of safety. For me, the numbers seem to show that masking will work and it’s just that simple. If they mask up, I would send him to school the next day.”

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