A small group of anti-mask protesters gathered on the sidewalk near Rutland Middle School and Rutland Senior Secondary on Monday, Oct. 5. (Contributed)

Anti-mask protest at Rutland schools ‘disappointing,’ says superintendent

‘We live in a country where people have a right to free speech — that’s why we educate them’ - SD23 superintendent

Two Kelowna grade schools were the target of protests by anti-maskers on Monday morning.

Witnesses of the small early morning demonstration outside of Rutland Senior Secondary and Rutland Middle School said the half-dozen protesters were handing out leaflets that contained claims of the ineffectiveness of masks against the COVID-19 virus — contrary to the advice of health officials. A sign was also propped up by the protesters calling to ‘defund mainstream media’ naming a number of local and national news organizations.

A sign, put up by the protesters, calling to ‘defund mainstream media.’ (Contributed)

School District 23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal said he was “disappointed” about the demonstration taking place in front of the schools but says his students are educated about the value of masks.

“We live in a country where people have a right to free speech — that’s why we educate them,” Kaardal said, adding the district has several safety measures in place, including mandatory masking in certain areas, and supports the advice given by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“We’re disappointed if they’re wanting to come to schools to (protest) but if they’re on public property I guess they can do that as long as they don’t interrupt the operations of schools.

“I have a lot of faith in our students.”

Kaardal said there was limited interaction between students and protesters and principals from both schools were outside ensuring the safety of the students as the demonstration progressed.

The RCMP was called to the scene when the demonstration began as it was initially on school property.

“Officers attended and requested that the group conduct their demonstration on the sidewalk. The group complied with the request and moved to the sidewalk to prevent further disruption of school activities,” said Const. Solana Paré of the Kelowna RCMP.

“The RCMP is here to uphold the law, maintain the public peace and ensure safety for all parties, including the protesters.”

The demonstration went on for about an hour around 8:30 a.m., as many students were arriving at school.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan Public Schools thanks educators on World Teacher’s Day

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
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