Herculaneum High School Student Sent Home For Violating Mask Policy, Holds Protest | St. Louis News Headlines

HERCULANUM, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Herculaneum High School student Tristan Watson staged a protest outside the Dunklin R-5 school district headquarters Monday morning over the district’s mask mandate.

Nearly 100 students and adults joined the protest. Sarah Harvey is the mother of a district middle school student.

“We decided to come here in solidarity with this young man. Show him how proud we are that he is exercising his rights,” she said.

According to his father, Michael Watson, Tristan was called into the office on Wednesday for not wearing a mask. He said his son was called into the office again on Thursday for the same reason.

“I basically just walked out and said I wasn’t going to wear a mask,” Tristan Watson said.

According to Superintendent Dr. Clint Freeman, the district switched to virtual learning for three days two weeks ago because so many employees were sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine.

“I don’t think anyone wants to wear a mask. But we also understand that to keep our school doors open is a mitigation effort that we need to do right now to help with that,” Freeman said. .

Freeman said when Watson refused to wear a mask at school or accept virtual learning, there was nothing to do but send him home. Since Watson didn’t have a car to get home, Freeman said the school district arranged for a police officer to drive him home.

A photo posted on social media showing Watson getting out of a police car outside his house sparked suggestions that police were called on him because he refused to wear a mask and was forced to do a “perp walk”.

Michael Watson confirms to News 4 that the school called him to ask him to pick up his son but Watson said he declined. And Freeman said it’s not uncommon for the school’s school resource officer (SRO) to drive a student home if they’ve been sent home by the principal.

“Unfortunately, our School Resource Officer was also absent. So our local law enforcement assisted with this and ensured the child returned home safely,” Freeman said.

Michael Watson has complained that the district is inconsistently enforcing the mask mandate. Tristan Watson said he hoped to find a compromise on the mask policy. Freeman said the school board will reevaluate the mask mandate at its next board meeting on Feb. 15.

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Martha K. Merrill